Arizona HOA Board Members

How to Effectively Handle and Avoid Most Negative News Coverage as an Arizona HOA

Whenever you see a story on the news about an HOA, the odds of it being positive are low. As a board member of an HOA in Arizona, your instinct kicks in, and you want to know what they are doing wrong. So, you jump on your laptop, conduct research on HOA Arizona bylaws or PR strategies for board members, but immediately hit a brick wall because you don’t know where to start.  We put together this article to help any HOA define a strategy to avoid negative press coverage and respond to any unforeseen issues that might arise.  Here is how to effectively handle and avoid most negative new coverage as an Arizona HOA. 

Crafting a PR Strategy for an HOA

Setting up a system to keep HOAs out of the news in Arizona is not easy. It is important to work with an HOA law firm in Arizona that can assist in crafting enforceable and equitable rules and regulations and policies adhering to Arizona law.  This should be a priority for any HOA that has not reviewed their rules and regulations or policies in a while.  Routine reviews with an HOA attorney of your governing documents and future plans for the community can help avoid most bad press coverage for your HOA.

Understanding Common Causes of Bad Press Coverage for an HOA

It’s obviously better if your HOA can be proactive and locate any rules, regulations, policies, or maintenance or financial plans that could create issues or controversies down the road.  Avoiding those issues starts with a clear understanding of what types of practices are leading to the news coverage.  Typically, they involve unfair or unreasonable rules, lack of understanding, petty rule implementation, and discrimination.

Reviewing bad coverage of other HOAs in your state and around the country is useful for board members and anyone that lives in a planned community or association.  Many of these common issues can be avoided with clear, concise communication from the board to all members that demonstrates the value of the HOA and plans for the community.

Ten Steps for Effective HOA Strategies That Help Avoid Bad Press Coverage

1) Consistency is Key

From a practical sense, keeping your interactions with all members consistent should lead to better outcomes and happier members.  For a legal sense, policies need to be practiced and implemented fairly and on a nonselective basis. No one gets a free pass. Enforce  rules and policies without exception fairly and consistently and your HOA will avoid many common legal issues and bad press coverage.

2) Clearly Define the Master Plan and Steps to Get There

HOAs can add lots of value for all the members if they get the majority of members on the same page. Board members have an easier job if they get members on the same page as much as possible.  Ultimately, an HOA is tasked with making sure residents have access to a clean and well-maintained community that increases in value year over year.  Setting targets and goals for the community and getting members behind the plan will make everyone’s experience better.

3) Communication, Communication and More Communication

An HOA has a duty to keep their members informed of all major decisions and plans. This includes any updates the annual budget or any service provider changes. Furthermore, any disciplinary actions should be followed with clear and concise communication.

4) Be Accountable to Members

HOAs run by board members that try to make changes, big and small, on their own without significant backing of their members are a common source of news coverage and contentious legal issues.  Rules, regulations, and strategic plans that promote fairness and receive majority support of the members is always advisable.  Adding significant accountability and measures to detail responsibilities will always help avoid ever getting to a place where your HOA is on the local news.

5) Utilize Creative and Professional Expertise

Finding ways to leverage the knowledge and experience of professionals with knowledge of best business practices and accounting expertise helps put your HOA in a place where it is financially secure by the end of the year.  This can also help avoid the common trap of always raising fees to address shortfalls.  Creative professionals can typically find practical ways to cut costs or improve outcomes with the existing costs.

6) Handling Inevitable Conflicts

Conflicts and arguments will naturally happen in any HOA.  People will genuinely disagree on the best way to solve a problem or improve the community.  Encouraging regular discourse and airing of these issues is important for the long-term success of any community.  It will also help get in front of many common issues before they rise to a level that might get some bad press coverage.  Hosting regular transparent association meetings and community events that involve all members is both practical and essential to this goal.

7) Lead by Example

Effective HOA board members set a good example by collaborating with the residents in a respectful and civil manner.  They encourage open and clear communication that addresses real issues, challenges, and risks directly.  Many common issues could have been handled with direct communication and an open process to decide resolutions before they rose to a level that presented real risks to the members.

8) Proactively Defusing Potentially Bad Situations

There will be times when things will get out of hand and having to defuse the situation may be the only plan. In that case, do not dismiss or belittle any of the concerns or objections coming from the people. Respect is shown when you give people an opportunity to express their opinions. It might seem like common sense, but it’s important to remember that allowing each member to have their voice heard will likely help craft a better short-term solution and long term sense of community.

9) Stay Focused on the Main Goal of an HOA

The main purpose of an HOA is to protect the property value of its homes. It’s not there to protect a government body or a place to solve political problems. Board members typically have the most success when they make their best effort to be unbiased, talk openly, and hone their knowledge of their duties.

10) Being Tech Savvy Can Help

Social media is a must in today’s environment. It can improve communication and simplify keeping all members informed and involved.  While you can’t control what your residents are posting on social media, you can certainly define some guidelines as to how social media would be used to communicate information pertaining to the HOA’s meetings, events, parties, and gatherings.  This does not have to involve a lot of effort or work to keep some online channels for community engagement.  Simple and practical sharing of key information is a great place to start moving into the digital age.

Work with a Law Firm That Specializes in HOA Representation

Any kind of controversial media coverage for an HOA can become time-consuming and frustrating as you attempt to deal with it.  It can also create legal issues for some types of coverage that will require a measured and professional response.  One of the main reasons to be proactive and work with a law firm that specializes in Arizona HOA representation is many serious legal pitfalls and common issues can be avoided with better planning and execution of key initiatives.  Halk, Oetinger, and Brown only works with planned communities and associations in Arizona.  Our experienced attorneys routinely help associations with all their legal needs, including controversial media coverage.  We assist our clients with planning and strategies to avoid most of these types of issues whenever possible as well. Contact our team today at 602-952-6925 or schedule an initial consultation on our contact us page.

Halk, Oetinger, and Brown shares this article for informational purposes only, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Arizona HOA Board Members

6 Essential Tips for HOA Directors to Consider When Selecting a Management Company

Finding the right HOA management company is one of the most important things the Board of directors can do to make sure their community is well run.  An HOA management company takes on many of the day-to-day responsibilities of running the association. Directors serving on the Board are volunteers, and often have their own careers. An HOA management company allows the Board to delegate the day-to-day operations and focus on what really matters. This typically covers helping the Board enforce the community’s covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) and assisting with communications between the Board and homeowners.  Before the HOA Board hires a new company or replaces your current one, here are the seven essential tips for HOA directors to consider when selecting an HOA management company in Arizona.

  • Establish Bid and Review Criteria

First, the Board should establish the criteria that will be used for the bidding and review process.  The Board should all the responsibilities and jobs that will be delegated to the HOA management company.  Will they be complementing existing enforcement and communication efforts by the Board?  Or will they take over as much of those day-to-day tasks as possible?  Creating a detailed proposal and needs assessment will help ensure your bid request is accurate and assess which companies are worth contacting.

The second thing to consider before creating your request for a quote is how you will review and judge the received bids.  There are some situations where budget limitations will make pricing most important.  In other cases, their level of service and current client testimonials will hold the most weight.

  • Create the Request for Proposal (RFP)

Take the criteria established by the Board and turn it into a simple template that includes all the most important points that need to be addressed by any potential HOA management company.  This invites them to submit a complete breakdown of their services and address the specific needs of your community in their proposal.  This can be viewed as an initial test of the company’s responsiveness and attention to detail.  If they fail to address some of the specific questions or needs outlined in the RFP, that is likely a sign they will not be able to provide the level of service required.

Creating an RFP also makes it easy to send out to any management companies that might be a fit, instead of forcing an individual Board member or two to reach out to these companies one by one.  It also provides an opportunity for the Board to get on the same page about expected services, key pain points, and proposed budgeting.

  • Track and Review All Proposal Submissions

Once the Board has sent off RFPs to any potential HOA management companies, you should give them a few weeks to follow up with any additional questions and draft their proposal.  The Board should then meet to review the RFPs. This is an opportunity to review the criteria established for selecting the best option and narrow down the best few proposals to schedule follow up interviews.

  • Interview Management Companies with Best Proposals

If your HOA has followed these steps and taken time to determine your needs, there should be just a few companies that stand out based on your priorities.  These HOA management companies that submitted proposals will expect a short interview to be a part of the process.  It can be helpful to do these interviews over the phone or virtually to save time for everyone involved.  Before conducting the interviews, the Board should establish a list of questions that must be addressed by each potential management company.  There are likely to be general questions for all interviews and specific questions from certain proposals.

  • Review HOA Management Contracts

Ask any of the management companies that you have included in your final potential selections to submit their contract for services.  The contract can be vital to the final decisions.  It is not uncommon to find some surprises or restrictive language in a particular contract that makes the final decision much easier for the Board.  Once you have received the proposed contracts, have a law firm that specializes in HOAs review each of them and highlight any potential areas of concern.  An experienced HOA attorney will likely be able to find parts of the contract that will be more or less favorable to your community needs.  They can also help spot contracts that could include unexpected costs.

  • Final Assessments Before Selecting an HOA Management Company 

After all interviews have taken place, the Board should review what was learned during the interviews.  This is a good opportunity to establish whether there is a clear favorite or a few potentials still left.  If there are multiple companies being considered, it can be a good time to request an opportunity to speak with a current client or two from each potential management company.  A company not willing to provide some access to a current client or detail some testimonials of their expertise and client care might point to some potential problems down the road.

At Halk, Oetinger, and Brown, we specialize in representing Arizona homeowners associations and planned communities.  We routinely work closely with HOA management companies throughout the state and have helped many of our clients find the best fit for their needs.  Our firm can assist with every step of the process in finding the right HOA management company.  Call us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment on the contact us page of our site.

Halk, Oetinger, and Brown shares this article for informational purposes only, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Arizona HOA Laws

HOA Political Yard Sign Rules in Arizona: Prepare Your Community for Upcoming Elections

Election years can be an interesting time for everyone.  It is natural for people to want to show support for their preferred candidates, but associations also typically want to set reasonable ground rules for the acceptable ways to display political signs in the community. A community governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA) is governed by its declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). In addition, everyone who joins the community has to adhere to specific rules and regulations and bylaws. As community members start to post political signs and show their support, the community association and board has a responsibility to set reasonable ground rules for everyone. To help with navigating this election year and get any association ready, we put together an overview of HOA political yard sign rules in Arizona.

Arizona Political Yard Sign Rules – An Overview

Elections will come and go, but associations and board members need to find ways to maintain peace and stability for the community. Elections can get very heated. To assist the HOA in supporting the community with fair and reasonable ways to display political signs, here are examples of signs and boards protected by Arizona law and how an HOA can place reasonable regulations on them.  Arizona law provides that HOAs must allow owners to display political signs in areas under their control, such as their yard.

  1. Duration of Protected Political Signs – The Arizona Planned Community Act and the Condominium Act provide laws related to political signs in HOAs. In Arizona, HOAs must allow homeowners to display political signs on their lots beginning 71 days before the day of a primary election lasting up to 15 days after the general election. If the candidate does not advance to the general election, the sign must be removed no later than 15 days after the primary election.
  2. Do’s and Don’ts of Political Signage by HOAs – In Arizona, HOAs can regulate the number of political signs that homeowners can have on their property, provided that the local ordinance which regulates the activity permits such restrictions. Likewise, the size of the signs can also be regulated by HOAs. However, it is noteworthy to remember that HOAs cannot be more restrictive than any local sign ordinance and cannot contradict the state laws that protect political signs. Additionally, HOAs can generally restrict political signs if they meet any of the following conditions:
  • Signs that contain roofing material, plants, balloons, paving materials and lights
  • Political signs attached to plants, traffic signs, vehicles, and other similar objects
  • Signs painted on architectural surfaces
  • Signs that threaten public safety
  • Signs that include hate speech or discriminatory language
  • Signs that distract drivers through music, noise, or steamers
  • Political displays that violate the law
  1. Common Areas – HOAs in Arizona can prohibit the display of political signage in public spaces like parks, playgrounds or pool areas
  2. Number of Signs – If the city, town, or county does not regulate the size or number of the political signs, the HOA cannot limit the number of political signs, but may limit the maximum aggregate total dimensions of all political signs on that owners property to no more than 9 square feet.

Arizona associations and planned communities should not assume that state and local laws mean they do not need to address the matter of political signs in the community directly.  It is important to at least make clear what laws apply to the members in the association and certainly helps to detail in writing what is expected of all members.  If your community is considering some updates or changes to the rules and regulations for political signs, it is important to review the plans with an experienced HOA attorney in Arizona and have the updates drafted and implemented with the assistance of professionals focused on the potential legal impacts.

Simple Steps for Smooth Implementation of HOA Political Yard Sign Rules

  • Research is Key – Although we have mentioned the rules and regulations regarding political signs in the above section, they may vary by local ordinances. Therefore, it is necessary that as an HOA board member, you take the time to research the state and local laws in terms of size, number, and type of signposts permitted on private property. If your association does not work with a law firm that specializes in HOA representation, this is a perfect opportunity to find the right HOA lawyer to help with the process.
  • Clarity in CC&Rs – Typically, HOA rules on political signs come with reasonable checks and balances. They can allow residents to display their political opinions fairly and reasonably. These rules and regulations should be clearly detailed in the CC&Rs, and should not distract from the neighborhood’s appeal. Therefore, it is imperative to go through what your CC&Rs say to make sure that you are correctly enforcing the rules and the regulations are clearly understood by community members.
  • Set Timeframes – Most governing documents include a timeframe of when homeowners can put up a political sign and have to bring them down in compliance with Arizona law. As an HOA board member, it is your duty to make the people of your community aware of the rules so that they are respectful of the time frames and make sure the rules are being followed.
  • Handling Difficult Requests – Similar to all HOA issues, it is essential to work with residents respectfully. When someone is violating an Arizona state law or an HOA political yard sign rule, the key is to be civil and candid about the matter. Make sure that you have a copy of the CC&Rs and that you assist the resident in understanding the rules. Lastly, make sure that you enforce the rules equally and never take a sign down arbitrarily, irrespective of your political opinion.

Review HOA Policies with an Arizona HOA Law Firm

Most rules and regulations around political yard signs are straightforward if the community follows Arizona and local guidelines.  However, any HOA that is considering making changes to their governing documents and community rules should consult with an Arizona HOA law firm to make sure they are in compliance.  The board of directors for any HOA has an obligation to make sure the community follows state and federal laws.  The attorneys at Halk, Oetinger, and Brown only represent Arizona homeowners associations and planned communities.  We can review any proposed changes and help keep your community compliant with all applicable laws.  Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule a consultation or make an appointment on our contact us page.