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Homeowners who live in communities without associations may have concerns when a new HOA forms. This is how to proceed.

Homeowner’s associations, or HOAs, are an integral part of many residential communities. HOAs can be found in condominiums, townhouses and subdivisions. HOAs are designed to oversee various aspects of the community like common areas and home appearances and board members have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the homeowners living in the community. In exchange, homeowners pay dues and follow the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) set forth by the association.

Not all homeowners are looking for this kind of arrangement and many move to neighborhoods without HOAs. However, what if a new association came into existence after the home was purchased? Can newly formed HOAs force you to join?

Read on to learn more.

Existing HOAs

If you purchase a home in a community overseen by a existing HOA, you are required to join the association. Often times the original developer will create the HOA prior to selling any of their properties to the public. If the HOA already exists upon closing, you’ll start paying HOA dues, which will contribute to maintenance of the common elements, such as sidewalks, neighborhood parks, green spaces and other amenities. Joining your homeowners’ association is a condition of your purchase and you will be contractually obligated to follow the CC&RS. Be sure to review the community’s CC&Rs before making an offer on a property in a new community to determine whether you can comfortably live within those rules.

New HOAs

Though most HOAs are created at the onset of a community’s development, sometimes they are created retroactively once the neighborhood is already built. Homeowners can decide they wish to band together to manage the community’s common spaces or collaborate to promote community safety. In this case, you are not required to join the new HOA. The HOA would have had to be in existence at the time of your purchase in order to require membership. However, please note that the new HOA may ask you to opt-in to the HOA. Please be aware that the HOA may provide information on how to opt-in to the new HOA so be careful about what documents you sign. If you are confused, you can hire a real estate attorney to look into the documents and advise you of your rights.

Arizona HOA Rights

In addition to general neighborhood upkeep, homeowners’ associations have the right to dictate the appearance of homes within the community. This includes but is not limited to color, fence height, types of plants in the front yard and where cars can be parked. Even holiday decorations are subject to approval. Some associations are stricter than others, which is why experienced real estate attorneys encourage a regular review of the CC&Rs throughout your time living in the community.

HOAs also have the right to collect legal fees from homeowners who are delinquent in payment of assessments, fines and late fees. A.R.S. § 12-341.01. Because homeowners and HOAs are linked together under contract law, A.R.S. § 12-341.01 will allow for the prevailing party to seek their attorneys’ fees.

Arizona Homeowner Rights

Many homeowners are unaware of their rights when it comes to their HOAs, but it is important to understand your legal obligations in the event of a legal dispute. One common issue in residential communities is HOA fines, which are incurred when homeowners violate the CC&Rs. Before these fines can be levied, however, homeowners are entitled to receive notice and hearing before the HOA board.

As a homeowner, you also have the right to participate in all HOA meetings and review meeting minutes and records. Notices of these meetings must be shared or placed in conspicuous areas at least 48 hours before start time and all residents of the community can attend. Afterward, written requests for the records can be placed and the HOA cannot charge more than $0.15 per page.

Find An Experienced Phoenix Real Estate Attorney

The attorneys at MacQueen & Gottlieb have significant experience with real estate law in Arizona. Our attorneys can assist you with any issues and help you understand your rights. If a new HOA community is being created in your neighborhood and you are experiencing disputes, our attorneys can assist you in pursuing that case. Contact us today at (602) 726-2229 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.

Call us today at (602) 533-2840 for an appointment.