Understanding Legal Issues with HOAs in Arizona: Your Rights Matter
The last thing a homeowner wants to encounter are legal issues with a homeowners’ association (HOA) in Arizona. Unfortunately, these kinds of things can and do happen. Things can go wrong more often than you may suspect. As a homeowner who contributes to an HOA in your community, you have a variety of rights granted to you by state law. Let’s take a quick look at how these protections can assist you if you find yourself entangled in a dispute.
HOAs are becoming increasingly popular in Arizona. Most new residential developments, in fact, are managed by some form of HOA, even if the HOA is considered to be a “lite” one with minimal rules or oversight. News laws, for that matter, are being created and added to the books each year, too, that aim to balance the power between homeowner rights and HOA rights. However, many homeowners are unaware of their rights, but we are here to help you better understand yours.
HOAs are categorized as either Condominiums (condos), where common areas are shared, including common walls in most cases; or as Planned Communities, where common areas are owned and operated/maintained by the HOA. Defining rules and regulations of the HOA are housed under a set of documents called the: Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (referred to as the Declaration or CC&Rs). These regulate everything from window treatments to pet breed restrictions, and everything you can imagine in between, from the color of your front gravel to what your backyard can or can’t have in it.
Always read these documents before you buy a residence, too. You don’t want to find a surprise restriction that prevents you from having everything you ever wanted in your dream home.
Dues and Assessments
HOAs usually require dues monthly, but some require them yearly.
- Funds tendered need to first be applied to the assessment balance, by law, and then to any unpaid balances (fees, fines, penalties, collections, etc.).
- The HOA is required to provide a response to your written request for assessments within 15 days of receiving the response.
- Liens can be placed and enforced if your balance due exceeds $1,200.
If the HOA says that you violated any rules, they may fine you. But unlike assessment fees, fines can only be fully enforced in a lawsuit against you; whereas assessments can be placed as a lien against the value or future sale of your home. Under current laws, before fines can be levied, the HOA has to offer you a hearing. If they do not offer you a hearing before the board, the fine is considered illegal and is therefore unenforceable.
What’s more, as a homeowner, you have the right to review all meetings, meeting minutes and records. You will need to submit a written request for these documents. The HOA is required to furnish your request within 10 business days of receiving it and cannot charge you more than $0.15 per page in fees.
Finally, all meetings of the board of directors are legally supposed to be open to all HOA members. Notices are required to be posted in conspicuous places or mailed 48 hours in advance of set meetings. A meeting is defined as two or more board members meeting to discuss any business related to the operation of the HOA.
At MacQueen & Gottlieb, we have experience helping homeowners tackle a variety of common legal issues with HOAs in Arizona that they may encounter. New Arizona laws protect homeowners against HOA abuse. If you need legal assistance dealing with your HOA, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.