Wednesday, April 06, 2011

CCHAL announces progress on SB 561

Evan -- please post news of our victory in California's Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. SB561 is legislation that protects both homeowners and associations from the predatory business practices of debt collectors during the assessment collection process. The bill is sponsored by the Center for California Homeowner Association Law in partnership with the California Alliance for Retired Americans. California State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett is carrying the measure.

Marjorie Murray, President
Center for California Homeowner Association Law
Oakland, CA 94612

Sent: 4/5/2011 6:32:58 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Senate Judiciary Approves SB561 4-1: Bill Protects both Homeowners and Associations

The California Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 this
afternoon to approve SB561, legislation targeting the
predatory practices of association debt collectors. The
author of the bill is Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett
[D-San Leandro.] AYE votes were Noreen Evans [D-Santa
Rosa], Mark Leno [D-San Francisco], Sam Blakeslee [R-San
Luis Obispo] and Corbett.

The bill voids any foreclosure action based on contracts
that violate the state laws protecting the rights of the
homeowner or the duties of the association board during
assessment collection. The bill targets in particular
contracts that violate existing law (Civil Code 1367.1(b)
prescribing how homeowner payments are to be applied to
the debt: assessments FIRST and debt collector profits
LAST – and only after the assessments are paid in full.

This consumer protection law was created by Congresswoman
Jackie Speier when she was in the California Assembly.

Seniors – with a lot of equity in their homes – are
especially vulnerable to these predatory practices. Debt
collectors coerce seniors into signing contracts under
which the homeowner “agrees” that his payments will go
into the debt collector’s wallet instead of to paying down
assessments owed as required by EXISTING law (Civil Code
1367.1(b). Because the debt collector isn’t paying down
the assessments, the homeowner is catapulted into the
foreclosure process.

“This is irrational behavior on the part of HOAs,” said
Marjorie Murray, President of the Center for California
Homeowner Association Law. “Why do associations hire a
debt collector to go after the assessments but then allow
the debt collector to keep the money instead of turning it
over to the association that hired them? This makes no

SB561 also targets debt collector contracts that prohibit
boards from meeting with homeowners to work out a payment
plan or to let the homeowner dispute the debt. The
typical contract penalizes boards that communicate with
the homeowner after the account has been turned over to
the debt collector: the association becomes liable for all
the collection costs.

Associations and debt collectors have been sued repeatedly
for these practices: Fuller v Association Lien Services,
Santaella v Angius & Terry, Chen v Association Lien
Services among many others.

Co-sponsors of SB561 are the Center for California
Homeowner Association Law and the California Alliance for
Retired Americans (CARA). Supporters are Congresswoman
Jackie Speier, AARP, Consumer Attorneys of California,
OWL, Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer
Reports; Consumer Federation of California; Gray Panthers,
Californians for Disability Rights, among others.

A fact sheet on SB561 is on the CCHAL website at

The bill goes next to the Senate floor.

CCHAL NewsBrief
April 5, 2011

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