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Arizona HOA Laws

How To Properly Establish and Enforce Parking Rules in an Arizona HOA

As an HOA you need to ensure that you have provided means by which the cars in your communities are adequately regulated in order to achieve cohesion between homeowners. While many HOAs already have these parking rules in effect, some may not realize that their rules do not comply state and federal law or may not be specific enough to properly oversee the conduct of vehicle owners in the community. This article will outline how to properly establish and enforce parking rules in an Arizona HOA.

Establishing HOA Parking Laws in Arizona

HOAs will find it useful to educate themselves on the HOA parking rules in Arizona. They will be adequately equipped with understanding the kinds of rules they can establish in their communities. Restricting parking conduct will more than likely create a defensive homeowner or two so understanding what you as an HOA Board are allowed to do to handle parking incidents can be the decision that saves you from a lawsuit from disgruntled homeowners.

The first step is for your HOA board understands the local administrative control on public roads as well as the commercial and residential HOA parking rules as the boundaries within which you can establish parking laws. Then your HOA board will need to ensure that the HOA parking policies are conveyed to the community with specific details and clear, concise language.

Using vague language or sentences that can be interpreted in several ways will pose an issue when confronting parking violators. The specific jargon to use when creating policies is usually best handled by a seasoned Arizona HOA law firm to ensure that your policies are airtight and difficult to be misunderstood.

Arizona Residential Parking Laws

There are three main categories of residential parking laws an Arizona HOA board should focus on:

  • Parking Locations
  • Abandoned Vehicles
  • Prohibited Vehicles

Arizona HOA Rules on Parking Locations

The rules governing parking locations will vary depending on the layout of each HOA community. Some communities may have rules which mandate that each homeowner should park in their driveways while others may establish that each homeowner, sometimes their visitors as well, are assigned parking spots. It is important to adopt rules that do not conflict with the CC&Rs.

In addition to establishing where homeowners should park, it needs to specify the areas in the community that they are not allowed to park which may be: a) in front of another homeowner’s house b) in front of communal areas and b) on the streets in the community.

If your HOA community consists of both private and public roads, your authority to establish where HOA homeowners park may be limited to only the private roads in the community according to A.R.S. §33-1818, prohibiting Arizona HOAs in which the CC&Rs were recorded after 2014 from regulating how public roads in the community are used for parking. With the guidance of an HOA law firm, you will be able to understand whether the use of public roads can be legally regulated by the HOA board.

Arizona HOA Rules on Abandoned Vehicles

To ensure that homeowners don’t end up leaving abandoned vehicles parked in the community, HOAs may devise regulations for cars to be parked on the streets at a specified amount of time. extend to any vehicle including motorboats, trailers, or RVs. An HOA may also adopt rules that prevent unregistered or inoperable vehicles from being parked in the streets.

Arizona HOA Rules on Prohibited Vehicles

Your parking policy can also specify the types of cars that are allowed to park in the community. Vehicle attributes that they can specify include, but are not limited to, trailers, boats, un-drivable, junk vehicles, and RVs. Associations have the right to protect their community’s appearance.

All of these restrictions will need to be placed in the CC&R so that the homeowners would have had a chance to look at these rules before agreeing to purchase property in the community.

Enforcing HOA Parking Rules in Arizona

In the same manner that the scope in which HOAs can regulate the use of roads depending on whether these roads are private or public, HOAs’ authority to enforce these parking rules is also contingent on this variable.

On private streets, HOAs are authorized to enforce parking rules by means of fining violators, or in some cases, towing vehicles. 

Towing of Vehicles in Arizona

Most states, including Arizona, permit HOAs to tow vehicles that violate the community’s parking policy. For instance, if a homeowner should park in a location that was established in the policy as prohibited, then HOAs will have authority to tow the vehicle out of the community which will also be reported to the local traffic law enforcement.

It is best to speak with an HOA attorney before enforcing parking rules in this way as there may have been steps, including appropriate signage and warnings, that could be taken before ultimately having to tow a homeowner’s property, potentially saving you the hassle of having to deal with disgruntled drivers filing lawsuits against the HOA board.

Work With An Arizona Law Firm That Specializes in Representing HOAs

As you may have noticed, establishing and enforcing parking policies in an HOA may be a bit tricky as there are many factors and federal laws to consider when organizing these rules. In order to ensure that your rules are established within the confines of state and federal laws and that these rules are overall reasonable, you will need the assistance of an experienced Arizona law firm that can guide you through the process. The Brown Law Group is a leader in HOA representation in Arizona because it’s our sole area of practice. Schedule an initial consultation to review your HOA representation needs on our contact us page.

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Arizona HOA Board Members

It’s Time to Implement Best Practices for HOA Cyber Security

There is no question that digital solutions and online platforms can save tons of time for homeowners associations.  Every paper process that can be replaced with a digital solution is probably worth exploring.  The only problem with online solutions versus traditional paper document storage is the increased risk for hacks that put member and association information at risk.  For all those HOAs that have moved into the digital age, it is vital to have strategies for keeping all your essential data as secure as possible.  Here are some key details on the best practices for HOA cyber security.

Review All Association Data

Any good cyber security plan needs to include all the key points of data and where exactly it is stored.  If your HOA has not taken a recent inventory of all potentially vulnerable data and platforms utilized by the association, here are a few things to make sure you have all key details summarized:

  • Online bank account(s)
  • Credit card account(s)
  • HOA employment records
  • Payroll management systems
  • HOA management company portal
  • Online document storage
  • Online signature and contract management
  • Contact management system
  • Website host
    • Include list of all administrators
  • Email provider/platform
    • Include any additional access points like phones, IMTP third party programs

Outsource the IT Department

Few, if any, associations can afford to have an in-house IT department and it would be an unnecessary expense in nearly all cases.  There are excellent IT firms that specialize in providing their clients with all the tools and resources to overcome any IT challenges or issues.  These firms can assist with implementing the best practices and provide real-time assistance if anything happens. They are also experienced with stress testing existing systems for any vulnerabilities and monitoring all third-party systems being utilized for any known hacks.  An experienced outside IT team can assist with selecting the best systems to meet your needs and responding quickly to any potential issues.

Draft and Implement a Cyber Security Policy

Every HOA needs a cyber security policy in place to make sure the board of directors and members are aware of the processes and policies being used to protect their private data and association accounts.  A quality cyber security policy should include specific security risks and the process in place to protect against those risks.  This is a good practice for quickly addressing any breaches of security or data.  It also helps protect the association against claims of negligence should any hack or data breach occur.  Start with the assumption that even the most secure systems can be hacked and define the process to mitigate potential issues as quickly as possible.

A forward-looking cyber security policy will address specific data and systems that require protective measures and what kind of liability insurance is required to cover potential risks.  It should detail who has access to which systems and data.  The policy should also cover the process the HOA will take to dispose of any old data or documents.  Working through this process in detail can help identify current systems that need to be updated and data/documents that require additional security measures. 

Utilize Best Security Protocols

One of the aspects of a strong HOA cyber security policy is standardizing the appropriate protocols for all key systems.  This should start with making sure that strong passwords are used for every online system or account.  It should also detail how often these passwords will be updated and how all required parties will get access to the updated passwords.  As more HOAs move most processes online, there is a need to monitor what devices have access to key systems and make sure there are protocols in place to grant or revoke access as needed.  This same process should identify and detail what software systems are used by the association and set reminders for any required updates.  Most software updates address any bugs or security risks that must be performed to keep your data secure.

Consider All Legal Obligations

Associations and planned communities have detailed obligations to represent their members interests, and this includes protecting all their personal information.  Since HOAs will have access to a lot of personal information, like full name, address, phone number, social security number and more, it is vital to make sure that all your cyber security policies, software usage, and online data storage are in line with the legal obligations to your members.  This is an area of your cyber security policies and protocols that should be reviewed with an HOA law firm.

At the Brown Law Group, we only represent Arizona associations and planned communities.  We can assist with drafting a cyber security policy and security protocols to make sure they address all legal obligations to your members.  Schedule an initial consultation with our team of experienced attorneys today by submitting a message on our contact us page.

The Brown Law Group shares this article for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Arizona HOA Laws

Arizona Prop 209: The Predatory Debt Collection Protection Act and How It Impacts Arizona HOAs

Arizona Proposition 209, otherwise known as the “Predatory Debt Collection Protection Act,” will directly impact homeowners associations and planned communities.  Prop 209 states that an HOA will be limited in its ability to garnish a delinquent owners’ earnings or bank account. This is especially important for board members to understand as garnishment can be a useful tool in collecting delinquent assessments. To help Arizona HOAs understand the implications of Prop 209, we put together this simple guide to the new legislation.

Arizona Proposition 209 Details

As a result of Arizona Prop 209 passing, HOAs will need to understand the following key points:

  • Creditors can no longer garnish the wages or bank accounts of almost half of the population of Arizona.
  • As a result, more HOAs will foreclose on its liens, causing members to pay more to resolve the debt, or to potentially lose their homes
  • With HOAs filing more often for assessment lien foreclosures to make up for their increased collection-related expenses and the risk that the HOA may not recover all of its delinquent assessments, HOAs will likely need to increase the annual assessments.

Wage Garnishments

Arizona law previously allowed 25% of disposable earnings to be garnished in order to satisfy judgments. With the passage of Prop 209, only 10% of disposable income can be garnished for debt collection. If anyone currently earns $51,000 or less per year, their wages cannot be garnished. This will limit Arizona HOAs’ ability to garnish wages because, according to a recent study by Phoenix Community and Economic Development, 41% of Arizonans make $50,000 or less annually.

Bank Garnishments

Arizona law previously provided that each individual can protect $300 per bank account from bank garnishments. If two people own the same bank account, they can protect $600. With Prop 209 going into effect, under the new law, each bank account holder can protect $5,000 per bank account from bank garnishments. If two people own the account, then they would be able to hold onto $10,000.

Homestead Exemption

Arizona law previously provided that $250,000 is protected from general creditors as a homestead exemption. Prop 209 increases that to $400,000. When an owner sells their house, judgments for fines will not be paid from escrow unless there is more than $400,000 in equity in the home.

Personal Property Exemptions

In accordance with the current law, $6,000 of personal items/household goods are shielded from debt collection. Prop 209 provides that $15,000 of personal items/household goods are protected from debt collection.

Keeping up with new and updated laws is a time-consuming and frustrating process. You can create legal issues for your HOA and put it in a vulnerable position by not being prepared for these new laws. Being proactive and working with a law firm specializing in Arizona HOA representation is essential. With solid planning and simple adjustments to internal procedures, most associations and planned communities can avoid common legal pitfalls.

The Brown Law Group represents planned communities and associations in Arizona and helps them to avoid as many of these common issues as possible. Our experienced attorneys routinely help associations with all their legal needs, including explaining new laws and how they can affect your HOA. Our firm can help your association make the necessary adjustments for Arizona Prop 209 and any other new legislation that might impact normal operations.  Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation on our contact us page.

The Brown Law Group shares this article for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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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.  The Brown Law Group 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.

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

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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 the Brown Law Group, 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.

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

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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 the Brown Law Group 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.

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Arizona HOA Laws

Why Arizona HOAs Should Consider Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations for Their Community

The rapidly increasing shift from conventional vehicles to electric vehicles has led several states, including Oregon, California, Hawaii, Washington, Florida, and Colorado, to draft specific laws for them. This includes provisions regarding the installation of charging stations for the vehicles. In addition, while commercial charging stations are being built, various residential areas are also equipped with charging stations for residents with electric vehicles. It is likely only a matter of time for Arizona to pass specific laws for electric vehicle charging stations and HOAs should start to consider how they want to address the growing popularity of electric vehicles.

Factors and Considerations for Community EV Charging Stations in HOAs

As the number of electric vehicles increases, homeowners associations (HOAs) will also be witnessing a surge in requests and demands to install charging stations as an amenity of the homeowners. Though Arizona has not passed specific legislation surrounding HOA electric vehicle charging station policies, the growing trend in favor of electric vehicles will likely push the state government to address it in some fashion.  Here are some of the things for any HOA to consider.

First, drafting a customized HOA policy enabling electric vehicle charging in condominiums or communities is essential as this policy draft can contain various rules and regulations applicable to all the community residents regarding the installation, use, and maintenance of charging stations. The installation of an EV charging station come  with expenses, including the installation charges, maintenance charges, usage charges, and permit charges. All these expenses must be paid by someone, and the HOA policy draft would help determine how best to cover those costs.

Next, finding ample space for installing EV charging stations is necessary. Any HOA also needs to determine where the charging stations could be installed and how they would function. For example, would the HOA be demarking specific parking spots for electric vehicles? Can normal cars be parked near the charging stations? How many charging stations may be required in a particular community? All these questions need to be resolved by the HOA and could take a considerable amount of time to assess. It is thus important that Arizona HOAs start getting input from your members and prevent last-minute rush decisions from taking place if state legislation is passed.

Permits: Once the optimal number of charging stations and placement has been determined, the HOAs would require permits from the zoning department and construction permits, which would lead to departmental assessments and inspections. The zoning department would have to conduct in-depth assessments of the community, the existing structures, and proposed ideas. They would then inspect, and hopefully approve, the new plans for EV charging stations to be built.

Schedules: HOAs choosing to install electric vehicle charging stations in the common areas would also need to determine a schedule for charging the EV.  This is a perfect opportunity for getting feedback from all community members. This is especially important in communities with a higher number of electric vehicles to ensure that every resident gets a fair opportunity to charge their vehicle and there are enough spaces for those members that need to utilize the charging station. Some communities may want to implement a reservation system, others may prefer a first come first served basis.

Infrastructural Capabilities: Installing community EV charging stations in Arizona would require HOAs to assess their infrastructural capabilities primarily. The electric charging stations require certain advanced features, and while most new communities are equipped with such infrastructure, older ones may not be. Similarly, high-rise buildings might not have the infrastructure to support an electric vehicle charging station. There are a lot of spatial considerations for every single EV charging station installed, which HOAs need to assess and apply for all proper permits.

Electric vehicles are rapidly becoming the norm with a growing awareness of environmental changes, marketing campaigns to reduce the use of gasoline and pollution, and the swiftly advancing technology which is making these vehicles much more affordable than before. The increasing inclination towards making more sustainable and environmentally-friendly choices are among the main reasons why EVs are continuing to grow in popularity. The availability of various options, thanks to almost all brands launching a lineup of electric vehicles, is another major reason behind more people choosing an electric vehicle.

Possible Complaints About EV Charging Stations

It is also possible that some members will dislike the idea of installing common charging stations because of potential inconveniences and costs. In such cases, the HOAs would need to consider whether they are willing to allow individual homeowners to install charging stations for themselves. If so, the HOAs would still need to complete some jobs like getting permits that allow homeowners to install their own charging stations at their own costs. However, this also needs to be aligned with the state laws and any HOA considering this option should review the potential policy with an experienced Arizona HOA attorney.

Until state laws dictate otherwise, it would fall upon the HOAs to determine the structure that will bring the most value to their members and community. The decision could be based on the overall feasibility in relation to the number of electric vehicles that are purchased by homeowners in a particular community. For example, a community that consists of older residents is less likely to be open to change and is also less likely to see as many electric vehicles. Newer communities with younger residents are more likely to see a surge in the number of electric vehicles.

Find the Best HOA Law Firm in Arizona

In order to keep up with the trends, it is vital for HOAs to keep up with the changing times and be adaptable to new technology, which could potentially lead to an increase or decrease in property values. With EVs becoming more popular, it is only advisable to draft a framework for the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles. The Brown Law Group only represents HOAs, condo associations and planned communities in Arizona.  Our firm can help draft a new HOA policy for EV charging stations or review your current rules.  Contact the Brown Law Group today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment on our contact us page.

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Arizona HOA Laws

Most Common Issues that Lead to HOA Litigation in Arizona

HOA litigation might not be as common as other types of business litigation, but claims against a homeowners association or planned community can be expensive and prolonged.  They can become a central focus for the board of directors and divisive for the community.  Our firm has represented hundreds of associations and planned communities in Arizona since our founding.  We put together an article on the most common issues that lead to HOA litigation in Arizona and what your association can do to avoid them.

Failure to Pay Assessments

The most common type of litigation is the collection of delinquent assessments.  When an owner purchases a property within an Arizona HOA, that owner becomes contractually obligated to pay the assessments when due. The assessments are also a lien on the property.  Each HOA should adopt a collections policy. If the owner does not pay, an association will usually send the case to a law firm like BLG to collect the unpaid assessments, and if necessary, file a lawsuit.

Violation Enforcement

The board of directors for an HOA is tasked with enforcing the association rules.  This generally includes the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws.  Naturally, enforcing the rules with penalties and fines for violations can lead to disputes with members.  HOA litigation can arise from members that fail to accept penalties from the board and disputes about the validity of certain penalties.

Failure to Maintain Common Areas

There are many legitimate reasons that common areas in an association can create maintenance issues.  From a natural disaster to unexpected breakdowns, the board of directors can be caught off guard by serious maintenance challenges and these issues can quickly become a source of heated disputes with members in the community.  These maintenance issues can rise to HOA litigation if they are not resolved quickly and effectively.

Denying Member Requests

Denying member requests for their desired plans for their home and property creates the potential for legal disputes and HOA litigation.  It is also a necessary part of being on the board of directors for the association.  It is common for emotions to be heightened when a member feels their denied request was unjustified.  It is important for board members to understand this potential when reviewing member requests and be cognizant of this potential when crafting a denial for requests that violate governing rules.

Discrimination

Litigation related to discrimination is also common for HOAs and condo associations in Arizona.  All board members should be familiar with federal HOA laws that apply to their operations, like the and Fair Housing Act.  It is important to make sure your association has appropriate accommodations for any people with disabilities and stays vigilant against any discriminatory practices in leases, sales, and application of governing rules for the community.

Disputes Over Actions by Board of Directors

It is normal for members to take issue with some decision by the HOA board.  When these disputes over increased expenses or controversial decisions become contentious, they can lead to members suing the association to prevent these actions.  Many of these issues can be avoided by reviewing potentially controversial decisions with an Arizona HOA attorney.  They can make sure your actions are within the rights of the board of directors and follow state and federal laws.  This will not prevent every lawsuit, but it helps your board know they are following the appropriate process to make difficult decisions for the association.

HOA Election Issues

Close elections for the board of directors always have the potential for disputes.  Whether there are complaints about the election process or concerns from members about board members ability to do the job, these disputes can quickly escalate into time-consuming legal matters that are costly for the association.  Routine review of your association election process can give all members confidence in the process and discourage potential litigation.

HOA Pet Policies and Issues

Most people think of their pets as members of their family so it should not be a surprise that disputes with members over association pet policies can escalate into HOA litigation.  Many associations and planned communities assume their pet policy will be fine and they fail to make proactive efforts to get feedback from members on any potential issues or needs.  We put together an article on crafting an effective HOA pet policy in Arizona and how to make sure your association accommodates any support or service animals.

Tips to Avoid HOA Litigation in Arizona

Anyone can file a complaint in court against their association or planned community, but that does not mean it will be successful.  All HOAs need to have a plan in place to deal with contentious members and potential legal issues that arise.  While you cannot avoid all potential litigation, your association can take many proactive steps to protect the association as much as possible in the long term.  The simplest way to protect the association is routine review of your CC&Rs and bylaws with an experienced HOA law firm to make sure the governing rules are valid and enforceable.  As state and federal laws get updated, the governing rules might need changes.  Having experienced attorneys that specialize in representing associations also means you can leverage their expertise when potential problems arise.  Many common issues that lead to HOA litigation can be resolved appropriately before a lawsuit is filed.  Ignoring member issues or attempting to always squash small violations with excessive fines or penalties can cause the matter to escalate to litigation when it is not necessary. 

Get an Experienced HOA Attorney

Some associations and board members might feel that HOA litigation is something they will deal with when needed.  Proper planning and experienced legal representation can help your association avoid many matters rising to that level.  The Brown Law Group only represents Arizona homeowners associations and planned communities.  Our firm helps our clients keep their governing rules updated and enforceable.  We help associations keep operations as smooth and effective as possible, while addressing most potential legal matters before they become HOA litigation.  Contact our firm today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation to review your HOA representation needs or make an appointment on our contact us page.

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

Categories
Arizona HOA Laws

Can Your HOA Prohibit Short Term Rentals in Arizona?

As the popularity of short term rentals continues to grow, it is important for associations and planned communities to stay up to date on Arizona short term rental laws and how they apply to HOAs.  We put together this article as an update to our previous post on some of the most common questions we have received related to HOAs and short term rental laws in Arizona.

What tenant information can you request from a property landlord that you may suspect is renting their property?

A rental property in an Arizona HOA must comply with the requirements contained in the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). If rentals are permitted, tenants may only rent for the minimum period specified in the CC&R’s rental time period restrictions. An HOA can require the following information regarding the tenants: their names, contact information for any adults living in the unit, the time period of the lease (including the beginning and end dates), and the license plate numbers of the residents’ vehicles. In a 55+ community, the HOA can also require a government-issued identification with an image showing that tenant meets the age restriction requirements.

You discovered a property is being rented out. What information can you request about the tenant?

As a homeowners association in Arizona, you must follow specific rules and guidelines that protect the owner’s property values and shared community areas. HOAs are prohibited from requesting the following information from a landlord about its tenant:

  • Requiring a copy of the tenant rental application
  • Credit report
  • Lease agreement
  • Rental contract
  • Or any other personal information about any of the tenants residing on the property.

If your HOA does not have a template for tenant information requests, the board of directors should put together a simple breakdown of what details can and cannot be requested from the property owner regarding tenants. The Brown Law Group can assist with developing a standard template for the tenant information requests.

Can HOAs amend existing CC&Rs to restrict short term rentals in Arizona?

Arizona has taken a welcoming approach to short term rentals as a state that protects property rights and encourages tourism. The state, cities, and towns are forbidden from banning short-term rentals. Thus, short-term rentals are legal in any neighborhood within the state.

Any time period restriction must be in the CC&Rs. If your CC&Rs do not include a time period restriction and simply allow rentals, your HOA cannot prohibit short term rentals. To amend the CC&Rs to prohibit or restrict short term rentals, it is important to ensure that the amendment is carefully and thoughtfully drafted. It is important to have an attorney review the CC&Rs and draft the proposed language for the amendment to ensure that the amendment complies with Arizona law and will hold up to scrutiny if challenged.

Find an Experienced Arizona HOA Law Firm

If your HOA or planned community is dealing with issues related to short term rentals, it is important to work with an experienced Arizona HOA law firm. The Brown Law Group provides industry-leading general counsel for planned communities and condominiums of all types throughout Arizona. Our firm can assist with any issues related to short-term rentals in your association and help make sure that all policies and governing documents are following current state laws. Contact us today in our Phoenix office at 602-952-6925 or our Tucson office at 520-299-3377 to schedule an initial consultation. You can also make an appointment on our contact us page.

The Brown Law Group provided this article for informational purposes only, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Categories
Arizona HOA Laws

What are Federal HOA Laws and How Do They Impact Arizona HOAs?

Arizona has many state specific laws for planned communities and condominiums, but there are several overriding federal laws that apply to all HOAs.  All HOA board members and individual property owners should understand the federal HOA laws that apply to their association and how they impact operations in Arizona HOAs.

HOAs: Federal and State Laws

Homeowners associations in Arizona are governed by many state laws, including the Nonprofit Corporation Act, the Planned Community Act, and the Condominium Act.  There are also several federal laws which apply to Arizona HOAs. These federal laws are superior to state or local laws. That means, if the laws conflict, the federal law will take precedence. The federal laws will also take precedence over any confliction provision of the community’s governing document.

Federal Laws Governing the Operation of HOAs in Arizona

State authorities allow for the creation of associations and planned communities to ensure smooth running and maintenance of all the houses within that defined area. From maintenance to fee collection, the association is responsible for all governance and operation of that community detailed in the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs).  State laws include statutes that govern the HOA’s ability to file a lawsuit against an owner to collect delinquent HOA dues. For instance, if the homeowner owes more than $1200 to the HOA or the homeowner has not paid his or her dues in at least 12 months, the HOA can even pursue a lien foreclosure on the property.

Although HOAs do everything to make the area safe for homeowners, they might sometimes make unfair decisions. That’s why federal laws include a set of rules and restrictions that govern the operation of any HOAs in Arizona. Here are the main federal HOA laws all Arizona HOAs need to follow:

Arizona HOAs and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) impacts Arizona HOAs that have publicly accessible common areas and employees. The law was established in the 1990s to protect disabled people from discrimination at work, transportation, and public accommodations. The public accommodations include recreational areas, gyms, swimming pools, and other areas open to the general public. For any place to be considered a public accommodation, it must be accessible to the public, not just the HOA members. If the HOA is building a recreational spot or a pool in the area that is open to the general public, it must be built and maintained to ADA specifications for accessibility.  If the HOA’s amenities are not open to the general public, and only to its members and guests, the ADA will not apply.

Applying the Fair Housing Act as an HOA

The Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination in residential housing based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, familial status, or national origin. The law prohibits any HOA in Arizona from taking any action against a member based on their membership in a protected class.  Most people understand that overt discrimination is unacceptable and illegal.  However, there are many ways the Fair Housing Act can be violated unintentionally.  Issues most often arise when a disabled owner requests a reasonable accommodation to assist with a disability. It is important to forward all such requests to an Arizona HOA attorney to review the request. All HOA board members need to be familiar with the Fair Housing Act and generally aware of any potential violations related to discrimination.

What HOAs Need to Know about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Federal laws have established legal ways to collect debts. Association dues, assessments and other charges that homeowners owe to the HOA are considered valid and enforceable debts. HOAs are not considered debt collectors as long as the association collects the dues and assessment from their own members. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) does apply when an HOA utilizes an HOA law firm to collect those same debts. Attorneys and debt collectors appointed by the HOA must comply with the FDCPA while collecting dues from homeowners. These laws put restrictions on the language and collection techniques they can use when attempting to collect any debt for an HOA.

Freedom to Display the American Flag Act

The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act (FDAFA) is unique among the federal HOA laws because it speaks directly to associations and planned communities.  The 2005 Act made it illegal for any HOA to restrict the ability of residents and members of the community from displaying the American flag.  The FDAFA does allow reasonable restrictions on displaying the flag properly as defined by law and community rules on the time, place and manner that protects a substantial interest of the association members.

Benefits of Working with an Arizona HOA Law Firm

Arizona HOA board members need to understand the federal HOA laws and state HOA laws that govern the association.  Having a basic understanding of these federal laws and how they can impact your decisions helps guide board members, but any legal matter or issue with a member that delves into these laws should not be taken lightly.  Working with an Arizona HOA law firm that specializes in representing associations and planned communities means your association will know that your rules and regulations are in line with federal and state laws.  The Brown Law Group can help Arizona HOAs review any matters related to state and federal HOA laws.  Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment for your association on our contact us page.

The Brown Law Group shares this article for informational purposes only and it does not create an attorney-client relationship.