HOA boards cannot increase regular assessments more than 20% over the prior year's regular assessments or impose special assessments that exceed 5% of an association's budgeted gross expenses for that fiscal year, without membership approval. However, the state legislature provided an exception that allows boards, without membership approval, to impose a special assessment in excess of 5% if there is an emergency. An emergency situation is defined by the Davis-Stirling Act to mean any of the following circumstances:
- An extraordinary expense required by a court order,
- An extraordinary expense necessary to repair or maintain the common interest development or any part of it for which the association is responsible where a threat to personal safety on the property is discovered, or
- An extraordinary expense necessary to repair or maintain the common interest development or any part of it for which the association is responsible that could not have been reasonably foreseen by the board in preparing and distributing the annual budget report.
Before an association can impose or collect an emergency assessment under #3 above, the board is required to pass a resolution containing written findings as to: (a) the necessity of the extraordinary expense involved and (b) why the expense was not or could not have been reasonably foreseen in the budgeting process. The resolution must be distributed to the members with the notice of the emergency assessment.
Whenever a board imposes an emergency assessment (including under #1 and #2 above), the board should adopt a resolution containing written findings as to: (a) the necessity of the extraordinary expense involved and (b) why the situation qualifies as an emergency. The board should also include a copy of that resolution with the notice of the emergency assessment it provides to the members.
If an association increases its regular assessment or imposes a special assessment, notice must be given not less than 30 nor more than 60 days prior to the date the assessment is due. See California Civil Code 5610.
Coast Management of California