Arizona HOA Laws

How HOAs Can Establish Effective Pet Policies: Arizona HOA Laws for Pets and Support Animals

While dogs are often lauded as man’s best friend there are times when they, as well as other pets, can pose legal issues for HOAs and condominium associations. Many of the legal issues can be avoided by regulating and enforcing pet policies in HOAs. Whether you want to place restrictions on animal and pet owner conduct or prohibit certain pets altogether, HOAs need to ensure the safety of both themselves and the members of the community at large. To assist Arizona HOAs, Brown Law Group put together a guideline of what every HOA needs to know about effective pet policies for pets and support animals.

Crafting Reasonable and Effective HOA Pet Policies

Many Association’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) will include language governing pets, so that upon purchase of a property by a pending member of the community, the owners are on notice of any pet restrictions. Some of the terms in the CC&Rs may govern the acceptable breed, type and number of dogs per household. Many CC&Rs will also give the Association the power to adopt additional rules and regulations regarding pets. 

HOA Boards must then craft policies that are reasonable and effective so that pet owners behave in a responsible manner. This includes taking into consideration circumstances where some rules may not be applicable to all situations. For instance, HOAs should not expect that all the rules in the pet policy that covers the conduct and nature of pets in general can be adhered to by owners of support animals according to the measures outlined in the federal Fair Housing Act.

Arizona HOA Laws On Support Animals

Pursuant to A.R.S. § 41-1491.19(D)(2), Arizona HOAs are required to allow residents reasonable accommodations to assist with disabilities so that the resident may use and enjoy their housing.  This includes allowing for emotional support or comfort animals when the owner provides documentation from a medical provider that the animal is necessary to assist with a disability. All kinds of animals can serve as emotional support for residents with disabilities. The resident must have control over the support or comfort animal. 

HOAs are permitted to inquire into whether a resident of the community is disabled so long as the disability is not obvious or readily apparent.  If any HOA receives a request for an emotional support or comfort animal as a reasonable accommodation, the Brown Law Group is able to assist the association in evaluating the request and determining if any additional information or documentation is necessary.  An HOA should carefully evaluate all requests for reasonable accommodations, otherwise HOAs may find themselves involved in a lawsuit for denying disabled owners accommodation for their support animals, as homeowners may file a complaint at no expense with the Arizona Attorney General if an association refuses a homeowner’s request. Before any request for accommodation is refused, your association should work with an experienced HOA attorney in Arizona.

Potential HOA Liability for Dog Issues

It is important to have pet policies in place as HOA communities can be held liable for damages caused by dangerous dogs within the community. Pet policy restrictions should include regulations that address issues such as securing or removing dangerous dogs from the premises, ensuring that homeowners have completely enclosed yards if they are pet owners, and ensuring groups of aggressive pets are not left together in common areas.

HOAs can also put rules in place that require certain dog breeds to have insurance policies that cover dog bites. This provides a means by which victims of dog attacks can make claims.

Regulations also need to be in place with regards to what qualifies as a “dangerous” dog or pet. These can be classified based on attributes such as the breed of dogs or based on whether the particular animal has had any history of injuring people or other animals.   The Association’s insurance carrier can also help to determine if a dog poses an increased risk to the community.

If an HOA fails to put restrictions like these in place, they leave themselves open to the possibility of being liable for personal injury and property damage cases caused by pets of homeowners in the community.

Enforcement Options for HOA with Pet Violations

As an HOA board, it might be difficult to enforce rules put in place concerning pet restrictions. However, there are measures you can put in place to assist with enforcing the pet rules and regulations.

One of the measures that HOAs can take is to impose fines on the homeowner in violation. It is important that each association adopt a fine policy so that it may address violations of the pet policies. 

Work with a Law Firm that Specializes in Arizona HOA Representation

The Brown Law Group only represents Arizona homeowners associations and condominium associations. Our firm can make sure your HOA pet policies are reasonable and legally enforceable. This can help keep your association members happy and make the process for dealing with violations more straightforward. We can also make sure that your policies still allow for responsible pet owners to enjoy living in your community.  Contact us 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.

Arizona HOA Board Members

Essential HOA Resources and Tools for an Effective Board in Arizona

Serving on the board of a homeowner’s association can be much more time-consuming and difficult than most people expect. There are not many resources available to help save you time and effort while you figure out what to focus on and how to get things done. The Brown Law Group, PLLC provides general counsel legal advice to provide tools to board members to assist with the governance of the HOA.  We strive to provide resources to make it easier and more effective for boards to manage the affairs of planned communities, condominiums, and homeowners associations in Arizona. Our firm put together the essential HOA resources and tools to make any board run more effectively and make board members’ lives easier.

Online Resources for Arizona HOAs

While there are many sites that post information about HOAs in general, it can be hard to figure out which of those are useful and relevant to Arizona HOA laws. Here are a few things that any HOA board member in Arizona should bookmark for future reference:

  • Arizona Rules for Meeting Notifications

The Arizona laws for association meetings and notifications can be found in ARS 33-1804 and ARS 33-1248. These open meeting laws provide that an HOA must provide 48 hours’ notice to the Members that it will be holding a meeting.  The HOA must provide this notice even if it is holding a closed, executive session. The Association may discuss 5 topics in an executive session.  Those include: legal advice from an attorney, pending or contemplated litigation, personal, health or financial information about an individual member or employee, matters related to the job performance of an employee, and a violation appeals hearing.

  • Board Committees

Committees are a great way to define the specific people tasked with each area of involvement for an HOA. It is also vital that committees understand their limitations in carrying out certain tasks. It is important to have Board representation on a committee.  The committee should serve at the direction of the Board.  Pursuant to Arizona law, a Director must serve as the chair of an architectural review committee.  The Board should also develop a charter that clearly describes the role, rights, and responsibilities of the committee.  Regularly scheduled committee meetings are subject to the open meeting laws. 

Understanding Roles as HOA Board Members

It is common for board members to not fully understand their roles individually or their responsibilities as an entire board. Each member needs to understand the basic definitions and responsibilities that come with their individual role for a board to be the most effective.  One simple way to help all board members work together better is to use the first meeting after every election to define those roles and responsibilities. It might feel repetitive, but it can help get new members off to a quicker start and every board member can use reminders about where to focus their time and the specific things that make up their responsibilities. Here are a few things to focus on in a meeting on roles and responsibilities:

  • Fiduciary Duties of Board Members

Every board member has a fiduciary duty to all members of the association.  HOA board members are responsible for the control and guidance of the association and thus have a responsibility to each member’s interest as well. Each board member needs to understand they have a responsibility to every member and they must use their authority to deal fairly with each member and represent the association members as a whole. A board member must act in the best interest of the association and avoid conflicts of interest.

  • Responsibility Versus Involvement

All board members should understand there is a difference between being responsible for some aspect of the association operations and governance and being involved in the process.  After an election the Board should hold an organizational meeting to vote on which board member shall serve as which officer.  Those officers include President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.  The Bylaws will further define these roles and responsibilities.  Everything from financials and accounting to common area maintenance to meeting planning and notes should be delegated clearly to the board member(s) responsible for that. It’s all a great time to define when and where it’s appropriate for other board members and members to contribute and be involved in those tasks as well. 

Conducting Board Elections According to Arizona Law

All members of an association should be familiar with Arizona laws for conducting an election of the board of directors. The right to vote for the board of directors is the most important right that all members of an HOA have as a part of the association. Some of the particulars of the voting process and rules can be determined by the bylaws of the individual association while all HOA elections must follow some standard Arizona laws.

An Arizona HOA must hold an annual meeting at least once per year.  Notice of the meeting must be sent not fewer than 10 and not more than 50 days prior to the meeting.  All members are entitled to attend the meeting and vote either in person or by absentee ballots.   Proxies are not permitted. Here are some of the key points to understand:

  • A ballot must be made available for all members to vote in person or by absentee ballot for every election and action requiring member approval.
  • Members must be able to vote for or against every proposed action.
  • Each ballot is only valid for one specific election, meeting, or proposed action.
  • Every ballot must have a clear deadline detailed on the ballot for delivery to be counted.
  • Ballots cannot authorize any person to vote on behalf of a member.
  • Email and fax delivery are valid forms of delivery and must be accommodated.
  • All ballots must be retained by the association for at least one year after every vote.

As long as these laws are followed, an association can have additional rules or specific processes in their by-laws for an election of the board of directors.

Handling Board Meetings by the Book

Much like the election process for an HOA, board meetings have laws that must be followed and the ability to add specific details or processes to their by-laws. As discussed earlier, notice of all meetings must be provided and regular board meetings must be open to the members. Members must be given an opportunity to speak at the meeting at appropriate times and for a reasonable amount of time. The board may place time limits on speakers. The board must have minutes from the official meetings that are made available to all members as well. The HOA manager or attorney cannot conduct or call for these meetings.

Utilizing virtual meetings and technology to make meetings easier for everyone to attend has been a hot topic over the past year. We posted an article that detailed some of the finer points that any board member needs to understand as they seek to use technology to conduct board meetings.

Crash Course on Handling CC&R Violations

The rules for a homeowners association or planned community are laid out in the covenants, conditions, and restrictions commonly referred to as the CC&Rs. Every board member will have to become extremely familiar with the CC&Rs and how they impact day-to-day life in the community. Most HOAs will have lots of rules in common, like maintenance standards for your property and where you can park vehicles. It’s common to find restrictions on how you can decorate your home and where trash receptacles can be stored. The CC&Rs are also where all the costs associated with living in the HOA are detailed, like monthly dues and assessments.

Board members must understand these rules as they will be tasked with enforcing any penalties associated with any members violating the CC&Rs. It is important to understand what can and cannot be done to enforce the HOA rules in Arizona. Brown Law Group put together a definitive guide to understanding what an Arizona HOA can do when members violate the CC&Rs and how to approach these various enforcement challenges.

Keeping Up with Arizona HOA Trends

HOAs in every state have their own set of challenges from prevailing expectations of homeowners to changing state laws. It is important to track these trends in HOA laws, governance, and member expectations if your board hopes to keep your association stable and compliant. The Community Associations Institute posts articles related to HOA news and trends. 

Work with an Arizona Law Firm with Experience in Association Representation

Staying up to date on HOA laws and trends will help any board member be more effective in their role and having a solid set of resources available to explore common issues and challenges will make their lives easier. Ultimately, HOA board members need to understand what they can do themselves and what should be handled by professionals that dedicate their careers to these specialties. At The Brown Law Group, we only represent homeowners associations and planned communities in Arizona.  HOA governance, covenant enforcement, assessment collections, and association litigation are the only areas our firm practices. We offer an effective alternative to the billable hours system used by most law firms that make it easier than ever to serve on the HOA board. Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.

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

Arizona HOA Laws

What Board Members Need to Know About Arizona HOA Disclosure Requirements and Record Keeping

There are not many people that get excited about record keeping, but it must be a top priority for any Arizona HOA.  Arizona law makes any association or planned community responsible for accurate record keeping and providing those records to any individual member upon request.  This ensures that homeowners associations are transparent, and members can hold them accountable.  These HOA disclosure requirements also mean that board members must understand their responsibilities and have an organized process for record keeping.  Here is what all board members need to know about Arizona HOA disclosure requirements and some tips on best practices for HOA record keeping.

Arizona HOA Disclosure Requirements

Arizona Revised Statutes 33-1805 and 33-1258 defines the HOA disclosure requirements that all AZ HOA board members need to understand.  Other than some specific exceptions, all financial records and other governing documents need to be readily available for any individual member to review upon request.  Individual members can request copies of these documents and HOAs must provide those copies within 10 business days of the request.  HOAs can charge nominal fee per page to the member for producing copies of the requested documents.  The amount that the association can charge is set by the statutes.

Arizona HOA Disclosure Exceptions

A.R.S. 33-1805  and 33-1258 also detail the records that are exempt from Arizona’s HOA disclosure requirements.  All privileged communications between the association and the association’s attorney do not have to be shared with individual members. The details of pending litigation do not need to be made available upon request either. Any personal information on the finances or health of an individual member in the possession of the association or board members must not be shared or made available to other members.  These exceptions also apply to any information on the job performance or personal details of any association employees. Any meeting minutes from closed executive sessions of board meetings for need not to be disclosed to individual members. Open meeting minutes and annual meeting minutes must be provided. 

Best Practices for HOA Record Keeping and Producing Documents

Every Arizona HOA must have an established process for keeping all meeting minutes, financial records and general details of the operations.  Typically, a homeowners association will hire a management company that will assist with organizing and storing the records.  The Association will be responsible for keeping and producing these records upon request.  This also means it is the association’s responsibility to maintain a process for separating out or redacting any records that should not be disclosed.  If this process is not strictly maintained, it can be easy to accidentally share privileged information when processing a routine record request.  This is an important process to review regularly with the association’s attorney to make sure that you have appropriately separated or redacted any information or records that should not be disclosed.

Some HOA records must always be kept on file. These records include the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), original articles of incorporation, bylaws, deeds, and easements.  A.R.S. 10-11601 requires meeting minutes to be kept permanently.  Fine notices should be kept for as long as an owner owns a property in the community and one year after. This helps to protect the HOA for any litigation that might arise within the statute of limitations for claims filed against the association.  The attorneys at Halk, Oetinger, and Brown can assist with developing a document retention policy and schedule for adoption by a homeowners association. 

Many HOAs still keep these records in paper copies in storage.  If an HOA has not already explored moving as many records as possible to digital storage, that is an excellent goal for this year.  Moving as much document storage as possible to a secure online storage option will make it much easier to produce any requested documents for individual members.  It should generally make it easier to stay organized all around. 

Establish a Better Disclosure Process with an AZ HOA Law Firm

If an Arizona HOA does not have an established and organized process for record keeping and disclosure, it can be overwhelming for the board when many different individual members start asking for copies of key documents.  This is one of the most important reasons to work with an experienced HOA law firm on keeping the right records up to date and segmenting those records that should not be shared with individual members.  Halk, Oetinger, and Brown only represents Arizona associations and planned communities.  Our team specializes in keeping your HOA in compliance with all Arizona statutes related to association governance.  Our attorneys can make sure your record keeping practices are optimal and disclosure requests go through a standard process.  Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule a consultation with our experienced HOA attorneys or make an appointment online.

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

Arizona HOA Laws

Arizona HOAs 101: What Everyone Needs to Know About Arizona HOA Laws and Rules

Everyone we know that buys a home in a planned community or homeowners association wants a neighborhood that will be a good, safe place to live and that their home will not lose value from neighbors that do not maintain their property.  Board members should keep these goals in mind when making decisions for the community.  Board members, and regular members, should have a general understanding of their AZ HOA laws and rules. They must also recognize that some issues require consulting with expert legal representation.  Here are the key elements that everyone should know about Arizona HOA laws and rules.

What is the Purpose of an HOA?

A homeowners association (“HOA”) is a non-governmental organization that is tasked with maintaining and enforcing the rules and regulations that govern the community. These rules and regulations are called “equitable servitudes” and are set forth in the Declaration and other community documents. Arizona HOAs are authorized by statute, and often their Declaration, to collect association dues and to levy fines against members that violate the rules.

Each HOA is unique according to its location and community documents, but they are all governed and operated by a Board of Directors. The Board consists of volunteer community members that are elected by the HOA membership to operate the association and make decisions in the best interest of the community.

Many HOAs are tasked with maintaining aesthetic standards and property values. How do they accomplish this? Through a reasonable exercise of their discretionary powers!

Keeping the neighborhood clean and well maintained. Adopting and enforcing policies governing operating procedures, enforcement policies, landscaping guidelines, and collection policies. Collaborating with local and state government. Entering into maintenance and service contracts for community assets. Maintaining and tendering claims to insurance. These are all reasonable exercises of discretionary powers. It takes a lot of work to build and maintain a great community, but once accomplished property values and member enjoyment generally follow closely along. 

How Can an AZ HOA Establish Effective Rules and Regulations?

The CC&Rs immediately go into effect against applicable property when they are recorded. Recorded documents are public records. When an individual buys a property subject to CC&Rs, that individual is contractually obligated to follow the CC&Rs upon accepting a deed to the property. You do not need to sign or accept the CC&Rs to be bound by them! You are automatically responsible upon accepting a deed to property controlled by CC&Rs.

Most CC&Rs even let the Board adopt extra rules they can make you follow! Those rules must be adopted and noticed according to the process in your community documents!

Can an AZ HOA Limit Which Members Can Join the Board?

Generally, no.  Every owner in the community automatically becomes a member upon accepting the deed to their property. Each member is entitled to the rights and bound by the obligations set forth in the CC&Rs. This includes the right to run for the Board, subject to existing restrictions set forth in the CC&Rs or Bylaws.  Some HOAs will require that a member be in good standing to run for the Board. All policies and processes to elect the board and govern the community need to take this into consideration.

Required Disclosures for AZ HOAs

Understanding disclosures and notifications is an important part of operating any planned community or HOA. These include but are not limited to providing adequate notice of all board meetings and disclose the meeting minutes, providing adequate notice before imposing fines, providing notice of adjusted assessment rates, responding to disclosure requests from its members, and providing an annual disclosure of the association budget and any changes to rules and regulations.  It is important that HOAs are transparent and keep the members updated.  

HOA Financial Responsibilities

Associations are often responsible for maintaining community property.  Board members are responsible for making decisions and giving direction on the management, allocation and accounting of community resources and assets. 

Understanding AZ HOA Laws and Rules

Every HOA board member should be willing to learn about the rules and laws that apply to planned communities and associations in their state.  We posted a recent article on the key details that every HOA board member in Arizona needs to know to do their job effectively and represent the community.

In Arizona, the Planned Communities Act, Arizona Condominium Act and the Nonprofit Corporations Act are the main governing statutes for HOAs.  These are important laws for every HOA board member to understand and make sure their board and community are staying in compliance.

Can an HOA in AZ be Represented by an HOA Law Firm?

Yes, HOAs as a whole can and should seek the representation of an experienced law firm to represent their collective interests.  HOAs routinely run into legal issues that will require the expertise of an experienced law firm to resolve.  Utilizing the services of an experienced law firm that specializes in representing associations and planned communities can help avoid exposure to many legal risks and an HOA law firm can address any claims that arise appropriately and expeditiously.

The complexities of the Planned Communities Act, Condominium Act and laws pertaining to non-profits are another important reason to rely on the legal expertise of a law firm that specializes in HOA representation.  While board members should understand these laws in Arizona, an HOA should not pretend like members will be legal experts because they read the statutes a few times.

The Brown Law Group only represents planned communities and associations in Arizona.  Our attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable on all things related to HOA governance and operation.  We assist HOAs with everything from assessment collection to covenant enforcement to litigation.  Our team can assist with every detail of operating a successful homeowners association in Arizona while avoiding many common legal pitfalls.  Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment on our website here.

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

Arizona HOA Laws

HOA Board Members Beware: How Can Arizona HOAs Deal with Problematic Homeowners

Even seasoned board members can be daunted by the most difficult part of their volunteerism, managing the owners. Many a meeting has fallen to chaos when the Board did not take management initiative. What started as an opportunity to share opinions and ideas became nothing more than an embittered imbroglio of discontent.

How is one to manage when there are those difficult people who make it their mission to complain at every turn? Who ruin any and every gathering by being persistently critical and oblivious no matter how many times you try to explain things patiently?

Not easily! We advise preemptive management that nips problems in the bud before they escalate. Here are a few management techniques we have tested and found true. We hope you find them true as well!

How Can an HOA in AZ Manage Difficult Owners:

  • Announce and rely on the same meeting procedures at every board session. Uniformity ensures that all members know what to expect and helps avoid confusion about how things will go.
  • Enforce all meeting procedures fairly and equally. It might feel easier to accommodate an aggressive member that insists the rules don’t apply to them, but stick by your guns!

  • Start each meeting with an owner forum and set a strict time limit. Any member wishing to speak may do so for up to a few minutes. Time each speaker and enforce the time limit. Don’t let arguments and debates derail your forum. Stay on schedule and then move on with your agenda. Stick by your guns!

  • Listen more, talk less (or not at all!). Ask the disgruntled member to explain their issue. Ask the member questions that demonstrate your critical listening skills. You will show that you’re genuinely interested in hearing what they have to say instead of just arguing against their thoughts. Most people simply want their concerns to be heard and to feel like the board is working towards a fair and informed solution.

  • Understand that HOA law and your community are complex, intricate, and detailed. Mistakes will be made. They are unavoidable. When they are discovered, take them by the horns and meet with whatever professional is needed to address and fix the mistake.

  • Adopt positive, assertive body language and attitude. Don’t be afraid to tell a joke if it will lighten the mood, but don’t expect witty banter to get you out of serious, and necessary, debates. Remember that confrontational arguments are expected be held without insults, threats, or aggression.

  • When calm courtesy and professionalism are of no impact, take bold action. Table that motion, postpone the vote, or adjourn the meeting. Reconvene when you are better able to manage the situation.

How Can an HOA in AZ Deal with More Serious Issues

Not all problems can be handled through deft management and administrative calendaring. Sometimes extraordinary action is necessary. Do you know your nearest police station? Fire department? Hospital? Do you have an accessible community manager or general counsel? Take time to locate nearby emergency resources and prepare general emergency plans and keep your community manager and general counsel in the loop. They have likely seen the problem you have, and may have an easy and ready solution for you.

Get the Assistance of an Arizona HOA Law Firm

If a confrontational member is consistently disrupting board meetings or general operations, then it is best to work with an experienced Arizona HOA law firm on your options.  Individual members that have unpaid association dues or continue to violate community rules are more straightforward to handle.  Those members that pay their dues and do not clearly violate CC&Rs present more difficult challenges for a board that simply wants to keep the association operating smoothly.  The Brown Law Group is exclusively an Arizona HOA law firm.  Our experienced attorneys only work with Arizona HOAs and condo associations.  We have worked with many HOAs to make sure that a few disgruntled members do not disrupt the community operations.  Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to make an appointment or schedule a meeting 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.


Arizona HOA Laws

Managing Holiday Lights and Decorations as an Arizona HOA

Our Owners (mostly) love a holiday. Owners around the country love to put up festive lights and decorations to celebrate. The news loves digging into stories of holiday-related enforcement. Holiday decorations are a tricky issue for HOAs that want to put certain restrictions on seasonal decorations and light displays.  At the end of this article, you will have a better understanding how your HOAs can clearly adopt and communicate appropriate guidelines for holiday lighting and decorations.  Everyone wants to celebrate a joyous holiday season and some simple planning will help any Arizona HOA accomplish this with reasonable expectations for the community.

Can Arizona HOAs Restrict Holiday Lights and Decorations?

Some CC&Rs will include specific requirements for decorations.  Most CC&Rs will authorize the Board to adopt reasonable decoration guidelines at their discretion.  If your CC&Rs permit that amount of discretion, your HOA can regulate almost every reasonable aspect of decorations down to when you can and can’t have your lights on!

Curious as to if a restriction is reasonable? Check with association general counsel!

Looking for Association General Counsel in Arizona?

The Brown Law Group only represents Arizona associations and planned communities.  Our attorneys specialize in HOA governance, covenant enforcement and assessment collections.  We can assist any Arizona HOA with all the things involved in crafting, communicating and enforcing HOA restrictions on holiday lights and decorations.  Our law firm can make sure the process is handled correctly and efficiently so your Association can enjoy a festive holiday season without worrying about how to enforce your holiday rules and regulations.  Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation with our HOA attorneys or make an appointment on our contact us page.

Managing Member Requests for Changes to Holiday Light Restrictions

If your association can adopt and revise decoration guidelines, you have likely seen members requesting modifications and changes to accommodate their holiday spirit. We expect that the holidays will continue to proliferate and that decorations will become more intricate with tech savvy owners that enlist the aid of drones, lasers, and inflatable tube men. Some owners will remain staunch traditionalists that stick with tried and true analog decorations.

What is your community’s aesthetic guideline? Is it summarized and accessible for your members? Is it time to proactively survey your members with an eye towards updating your decoration guidelines? There is no better time than the present to get a consensus among your members and address it at the next board meeting.  Nor is there a better time to summarize your holiday light and decoration rules and regulations to send to all members as a reminder.

The Brown Law Group only represents Arizona associations and planned communities. We can handle general counsel needs, covenants enforcement, assessment collections, litigation and more.

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

Arizona HOA Board Members

Important Tips for New HOA Board Members in Arizona

As a new nominee to the Board, you were likely more focused on your agenda than the realities of serving as a volunteer Director for a non-profit homeowners’ association.

Then you were elected and in the thick of it all. Your agenda got lost in the sheer breadth of what you needed to handle as a director. You picked up on the broad strokes first. Then the finer points with time. More experienced Directors showed you the ropes. You learned a bit from watching the Community Manager. And you always kept a list of important questions to ask an Association attorney – the next time you saw one.

You grew wiser in the year. The election passed and new Directors came near. Would you explain this to them, they asked, if they brought the beer?

Never fear, you told them, hear the following and persevere!

You Are Your Community Documents

Your community documents are the lifeblood of your Association. They are the operating manuals that give you the Rules. They include, at a minimum, your Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”) and your Bylaws. Other common community documents include Articles of Incorporation, Rules and Regulations, Fine Policies, Enforcement Policies, Architectural Guidelines, Amendments, and Resolutions of the Board.

You likely have general familiarity with your community documents. You know the structure and can navigate them. You must now begin the journey from familiar to knowledgeable.

Expand upon your knowledge issue by issue. Look to the community documents for answers first and always. Keep notes on sections or words you do not understand and ask other Board Members and industry professionals for their interpretations. As you use and rely on the community documents your understanding will deepen and you will see new connections in your documents you did not notice before. Still take notes and ask industry professionals for their interpretations. Mastery of your community documents, like the vinting of fine wine, comes only with time.

What You Need to Know About HOA Finances

Association finances may not be fun, but they set the functional stage for your work as a director.

They are also why you serve on the Board for free!

Your Association lives on assessments. Your Association likely has no other source of funds outside its assessment powers. The Board sets the assessment rate. The Association assesses. The Members, ideally, pay.

How does the Board decide on the assessment rate? Firstly, by reviewing the governing documents for limitations on assessment increases. Secondly by comparing expected financial obligations against current assets. Financial obligations include charges such as: property taxes, utilities, professional management or accounting, general and litigation counsel, landscaping charges, insurance, staffing and contractors, maintenance and replacement of capital assets, payments to the reserves for future maintenance, and other operating costs.

All this must be paid for with assessments.

Fortunately, you need not be an accountant to understand and manage Association finances. Start with a review of the most recent budget and go from there. The Treasurer or Community Manager can provide you with the financial statements and some basic understanding. The rest depends on your efforts of inquiry.

Patient, Selective Advocacy   

Only you know exactly why you ran for the Board, but we imagine it is because you care about how your community is operated and governed. There is also a good chance you have some strong opinions on how things, or one thing, should be done.

Take a cautious approach to your agenda as a new Board Member. Your first few board meetings are best spent getting a feel for how the Association operates, your Association’s current concerns, and the disposition of your fellow Board Members. Don’t be afraid to put in some work during this time to support the effort or decisions of other Board Members. You will gain valuable experience and will build relationships that may be helpful when it is time for you to undertake your project.

During this time, you can consider the goals you would like to accomplish. You should eventually settle on one and make this the focus of your efforts and accumulated political capital.

Open Communication with All Members is Key

The Association is a community endeavor. Substantive (and sometimes unsubstantive!) changes will need a majority of the Board and Members on your side. As a new Director, you need to understand the lay of the land. What are the priorities of the Board and other Directors? What are the Members concerned about? What of percolating intrigue, rumor, and scandal?

You need be a spymaster or political savant no longer! Modern technology makes it easier than ever to create online or email polls to gather information from your community.

A professional and well-considered poll can assist the Board with identifying community sentiment for a project or change. This information can be invaluable for a Board attempting to identify and tailor positive changes for their Association.

And don’t discount plain old feet on the street with an ear for your neighbors and fellow Directors. All types of communication are key.

But most of all, don’t forget to…

Communicate with Experienced HOA Attorneys in Arizona

Most new board members quickly realize that being on a community association board requires a lot of time and effort, especially at the start.  One of the ways that you can make sure that effort is productive and benefiting the association long term is to work with a law firm that specializes in association representation in Arizona.  The Brown Law Group only represents Arizona associations and planned communities.  We can handle general counsel needs, covenants enforcement, assessment collections, litigation and more.  Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation with our team.

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

Arizona HOA Laws

Bomb or a Balm? Navigating New Technologies for Associations with Aplomb

Virtual Meetings and Electronic Voting for Arizona HOA Boards

Our Associations have taken notice of the efficiencies and cost savings offered by new virtual methods of public. They are simply too good to be ignored. But their dangers are not always obvious.

While our advice may be cutting edge, the legal landscape we live and work in is still digitally lacking. Our statutes and community documents still require notice be sent postage paid. Exceptions carved out in the law for remote meetings were intended to address the advent of Telephone Conferencing, not computers. We expect the legislature may hear something about electronic mail in the next decade or so. Until then, we have no guidance beyond the statutes… and our wits. How is an Association to know if a technology solution is a balm or a bomb?

Well, it requires a case-by-case assessment by a qualified attorney! But before we get to our shameless plug, let’s take a look at the two most popular and impactful technologies we get questions about all the time: virtual meetings and electronic mail!

Virtual Meetings – Balm for a Tortured Board?

Virtual meeting technology synergizes well with Arizona open meetings laws! The archaic telephone conferencing laws we mentioned are very helpful here. Virtual meetings are not a solution for every problem, but these following pointers will help you identify the pitfalls and powers presented by taking your meetings into virtuality:

  1. Check with counsel before adopting virtual, digital, or electronic technologies. Your Association may have terms in the CC&Rs, Bylaws, or Articles of Incorporation that pose a unique obstacle to your Association’s adoption of a new technology for operating purposes. Let counsel identify these issues first, lest an unsavory Member do so after the next annual meeting.

  2. Don’t assume your Members are tech savvy! Provide your Members clear instructions for attending virtual meetings. Include directions on downloading and using the virtual meeting client, with clear instructions for each attendance option offered. Don’t be surprised if some of your Members still have issues!

  3. Use a service that provides a direct dial-in option. It is nearly guaranteed that someone in your Association will be unable to access the meeting virtually. Always provide a dial-in option.

  4. Use a service that has tools that let you control the meeting, instead of allowing the meeting to control you! Look for options that allow you to: (1) control who accesses the meeting; (2) add and remove folks from the meeting quickly and easily; (3) mute meeting attendants; (4) easily record and share recordings of meetings; (5) control and moderate the in-meeting text chat.

  5. Assign someone to be Meeting Manager. The Meeting Manager is responsible for muting, un-muting, managing waiting rooms, moderating in-meeting chat, and any other tasks that are necessary to run the virtual meeting. Thanks Meeting Manager!

  6. Configure your service so that attendees join the meeting muted. When it is time for attendee participation, any attendee wishing to speak can inform the Meeting Manager via in-meeting chat.

  7. Have a clear, noticed virtual meeting procedure that includes a way for Members to have an opportunity to speak reasonably on issues during the meeting.

Electronic Mail for Associations – Avoiding a Ticking Time Bomb?

Your email procedure must be very precise to meet Arizona open meeting requirements. In Arizona, the Attorney General has opined that deliberations and voting conducted via email violate the open meeting law statutes.  The Arizona Legislature has made clear that is policy is to strive for as much transparency as possible.  When a quorum of the Board is discussing association business via email, that Board may be violating the open meeting laws.  Even if discussing an executive matter, the Members have a right to know that the meeting is taking place, and 48 hours’ notice is required.

We advise approaching email with caution. Email is problematic because it is not easily controlled. A member can include, exclude, forward, copy, blind copy, or spam anyone that they wish with little to no recourse.  We advise only deliberating and voting via email in the event of an emergency.  The Arizona Planned Community and Condominium Acts provide that an emergency meeting may be held if the matter cannot wait the 48 hours required for notice.   In that case, the emails can serve as the minutes of the meeting. 

A Board Member keeps leaving Sally off the thread? The Board is meeting by email to discuss topics that are not technically privy to executive session? The Association is not maintaining complete records of emails subject to open meeting requirements? A Member doesn’t have email or email access? These and many other scenarios could lead to an open meeting violation by your Association. And they are no fun. Trust us.

However, your Association may have an interesting or useful role for email in your community. In that situation, if you wish to proceed with incorporating email or any other technology into your Association’s process responsibly, we strongly advise that you obtain…

An Experienced Arizona HOA Attorney

The Brown Law Group specializes in HOA representation in Arizona.  Our firm only represents homeowners associations and condominium communities in the state.  We routinely work with associations to make sure their board meetings are adhering to open meeting laws in Arizona.  We can also review any changes your association has made during the past year to use technology in your voting process.  It is understandable to want to use technology wherever possible to make meeting and voting decisions easier, but these choices can cause more problems down the road for an association if they are not done the right way.  Contact the Brown Law Group today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment with our attorneys 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.

Arizona HOA Board Members

HOA Board Meeting Boot-Camp: What Every HOA Board Member in Arizona Needs to Know

The nominations tendered. The ballots cast and tallied. Suddenly you are on the Board. What was once whim gone as reality settles in and the first Board Meeting closes in on you… What’s your job again?

Getting on the Board is easier than you might think! Serving is something else. As a volunteer, you are required to serve and protect the fiduciary interests of the Association for no pay! Did they even train you for this? Probably not!

Never fear! We are here to help with these just-in-time emergency boot-camp pointers for handling and managing your meetings with professional precision. We address the most popular question at the end, but don’t skip ahead!

1.The Association is required to have an annual meeting of the membership every year. You can have more than this. But you need at least one. Also, all your meetings need to be held in Arizona. Don’t worry, you can still attend remotely, or even virtually! We dig into the advent of virtual meetings, virtual attendance and e-voting in our article <name>. Read more there to find out!

2. Notice of meetings must be provided to all members at least 48 hours before the meeting. Notice may be provided by any reasonable form of communication, including the Association newsletter, a clear and visible posting in the community, or email.

3. Emergency meetings do not require 48-hours’ notice. An emergency is any business or action that cannot be delayed for the 48-hour notice period. Not sure if it’s an emergency? Check with Association counsel!

At an emergency meeting, you must state the reason requiring the emergency meeting in your minutes. You also must read and approve those minutes at the next regular meeting of the Board.

4. Special meetings may be called by: (A) the president, (B) a majority of the Board, (C) by a vote of 25% of the members or any lower percentage provided in the Bylaws. If your Bylaws require more than 25% of the members to call a special meeting, it is unenforceable.

5. The agenda must be available to all attending members. It can be provided to the Members at, or before, the meeting.

6. All Association business must be done at meetings open to the Members, unless the business is subject to a statutory exemption.

This is called a sunshine law. It is a common fixture of public governance.

Under Arizona’s sunshine law, all member meeting, board meetings, or regularly scheduled committee meetings must be open to the Members or the Member’s written representative unless it is a topic that may be discussed in a closed session meeting pursuant to A.R.S. § 33-1804(A) or A.R.S. § 33-1248(A).

7. Each Member is entitled to speak to the Board and community on agenda issues. The Board may adopt time limits on a Member’s right to speak per issue as long as the restriction is reasonable and applied equally to all Members.

How do we determine what is reasonable? It depends!

The Association is installing a new ‘Children at Play’ sign near the clubhouse? The Board might reasonably limit each Member that wishes to speak to 3 minutes.

The Association discovered oil and is converting the Association monument into an oil derrick? We are gonna need more time for that one…

What? They brought cameras?

8. Members are permitted by law to audiotape and videotape open meetings of the Association. The Association may adopt reasonable rules governing recording of open meetings but may not preclude recording unless the Association records the meeting and makes the unedited recordings available to members on request without restrictions on its use.

This isn’t everything, but it’s a start! When you reach a question you have no answer for, and it will happen, remember you have an entire industry of professionals to help you learn, develop and grow as a Director of your Association!

When in doubt, reach out! Don’t forget we are…

Experienced Arizona HOA Attorneys

The Brown Law Group specializes in HOA representation in Arizona.  Our firm only represents homeowners’ associations and condominium communities in the state.  We routinely work with associations to make sure their board meetings are adhering to open meeting laws in Arizona.  We can also review any changes your association has made during the past year to use technology in your voting process.  It is understandable to want to use technology wherever possible to make meeting and voting decisions easier, but these choices can cause more problems down the road for an association if they are not done the right way.  Contact the Brown Law Group today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment with our attorneys on our contact us page.

Arizona HOA Laws

What You Need to Know About HOAs and Short-Term Rental Laws in Arizona

Short-term rentals are on the rise. Snowbirds migrate here in the winter. All seasons are ripe for outdoor escapades. Arizona attracts short-term renters year-round.  

The short-term rental landlord is no longer only the sophisticated commercial property investor. Even casual owners now routinely use electronic short-term rental listings to drive rental income into their pockets. Their neighbors bear the consequences of irregular traffic, late-night parties, sound ordinance violations, littering, and impolite parking…

It’s hectic! And we get lots of questions about it. Like…

Can HOAs Restrict Short-Term Rentals in Arizona?

The Arizona Planned Community Act and Condominium Act provide that Associations may only regulate short term rentals if the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”) contains a restriction prohibiting rentals or providing that rentals must be of a certain duration. An example of a short-term rental restriction we often see is a provision that a property may not be leased for less than thirty (30) days.

If your CC&Rs are silent on rental restrictions, there are no rental restrictions. Rental restrictions may only be added to the CC&Rs by amendment.  Rentals may not simply be restricted by a rule or regulation passed by the Board. The restriction must be in the CC&Rs.

We Have Problem Renters. What Can We Do?

You need to answer a question first — do your CC&Rs have a written restriction against rentals?

            Yes, they do!

Your rental restriction might allow the Association to prohibit all rentals. It might only allow a restriction of short-term rentals. Either way, the Association can enforce the restriction. Check with your Association’s counsel on the best way to enforce your Association’s rental restriction before you take action!

            No! They Don’t!

Your Association will not be able to deal with the short-term renters with a rental restriction. Don’t worry! There are other options, which leads us into another question we get…

Who Cares? Can’t We Just Go After the Owner!?

Yes! The Owner is responsible for making sure the property is compliant with the CC&Rs and community rules. The Association may fine an Owner for noise complaints, loud parties, parking violations, misuse of the common area amenities, trash can violations, and any other community rule violations by the Owner or the Owner’s renters.

Can’t the City or State Do Something About It?

Probably not. Unless it is a serious problem.

In 2019, the Arizona Legislature passed a law providing that a city or municipality many only regulate a vacation or short-term rental for: (1) requiring the Owner provide contact information for responding to short-term rental complaints; (2) protecting public health and safety; (3) enforcing zoning ordinances; (4) preventing use of short-term rental as a sober living home, for selling illegal or controlled substances, or for pornography, obscenity, topless dancing, or other adult-oriented businesses or unauthorized uses.

If you are dealing with one of these issues, the Association should consider submitting a complaint to the appropriate regulatory entity. Otherwise, the Association is the last line of defense against short-term renter shenanigans.

Rental issues are often tricky or difficult to manage. The Association industry has a wealth of resources available to help you manage the situation professionally. All you need do is…

Find an Experienced HOA Attorney in Arizona

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 or assist with amendments to your CC&Rs.  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.