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.

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.

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.

Arizona HOA Board Members

What Templates Can Every Arizona HOA Utilize To Be More Effective?

Being a board member of an Arizona HOA involves lots of work. Plus it’s an unpaid volunteer position! Effectiveness is proactively addressing issues before they become problems and finding simple and methodical procedures that use existing assets and valuable templates to get the job done right.  There is always plenty of work for the Association to handle with sending out violation letters, planning agendas, distributing meeting minutes, vendor management, and community walk-throughs. The Association need not delegate duplicative work tasks to the Directors. Maintaining consistency and reducing project time is one of the main advantages of using HOA templates. While each community has to review their specific needs, there are a few templates every Arizona HOA should make sure they can utilize to make their job easier.

Add Efficiency and Clarity with an Arizona HOA Agenda and Arizona HOA Meeting Minutes Template

Clear communication with all members is one of the best ways to improve HOA operations and make your life easier as an HOA board member.  Get the most from your meetings by having a detailed HOA agenda template and an Arizona HOA meeting minutes template. Having these templates ready and pre-populated whenever possible will yield tremendous efficiency and significant time savings. Both the agenda and meeting minutes should follow a similar format. This will help ensure clear communication with your HOA members.

By doing a little bit of preplanning and properly developing a template for your Arizona HOA agenda, your association will be perceived as organized, informed, and genuinely in touch with the community’s needs. Additionally, it will let all members know where the meeting will take place and detail the key discussion points at that upcoming meeting.  A solid template makes it easier to update for all future meetings as early as possible, which naturally leads to better engagement from the community as a whole. The templates can eliminate the natural temptation to procrastinate because most of the details will be completed and set up for your association. Good meeting minutes start with a detailed agenda.

Here are some simple guidelines to ensure you get the most from an Arizona HOA meeting minute template:

Keep Records of Board Actions, Not All Conversations

  • Conversations such as “he said, she said” should be omitted from minutes.
  • The minutes must contain any votes (decisions) of the board.
  • Homeowners need to know that all meetings are structured and there will be an appropriate time for each topic.

Generally Keep Things Simple

  • Minutes are the official record of the HOA
  • During a lawsuit, minutes are discoverable.
  • Minutes should not include individual opinions.
  • A board meeting’s minutes should typically be less than two pages if done correctly.
  • Executive meeting minutes should be kept separately from open meeting minutes.

Arizona HOA Violation Letter Templates and Common Uses

All HOAs have unique expectations, but there are some common violations where an Arizona HOA violation letter template can be used effectively. Upon a breach, a manager or board member should have an Arizona HOA violation notice template prepared.  This makes it easy to send an HOA violation notice requesting the owner rectify the violation. Any Arizona HOA violation notice should contain the owner’s name, lot number, when the offense was noticed, who witnessed the offense, a deadline for compliance, the provision of the governing documents that was violated, and any additional details explaining the right to appear before the board. Contact information for the managers, board members, or association representatives should be included as well.

In most cases, if the violation has not been resolved by the compliance deadline, the next step will be to send a formal HOA violation letter explaining the fines that will be assessed to the owner. This letter must also provide an opportunity to be heard.

Here are some of the most common violations that could utilize an Arizona HOA violation letter template:

Guidelines for HOA Landscaping

Most associations will have clear rules about lawn maintenance, weeding, and unkempt exteriors to improve curb appeal throughout the community.  There are also many common reasons that homeowners might fall behind on their landscaping upkeep.  A simple violation notice template for landscaping issues to serve as a reminder of the rules and fines the member faces if the issues are not addressed is usually all that is needed to get the homeowner to correct the issue.

Vehicle Parking

Most Arizona HOAs have rules and regulations to limit the number and type of vehicles parked on the property, such as RVs, boats, and commercial vehicles.  It is also common for individual homeowners to simply forget about these rules.  This is a perfect example of a useful template violation letter that can be quickly prepared and sent out to any member in violation.

Trash Codes Not Followed

An HOA may prohibit certain items from being disposed of in community dumpsters or placing trash cans out before garbage collection.  This is a common violation and can be addressed effectively in most cases with a straightforward violation letter template.

Structures & Storage for the Exterior

HOAs can often limit or completely deny equipment or storage structures on community properties to maintain a neighborhood’s appearance. While there are a variety of ways that individual members might violate the rules around unapproved structures or storage, many of these issues can be properly addressed with a template violation letter detailing the violation and the deadline for compliance.


Arizona HOAs can establish rules on the types of pets, breeds and number of pets allowed on individual properties.  They must be aware of certain support animals that must be allowed by Arizona HOAs, but all other pet violations can be addressed in a template letter that references the specific bylaws on pet limitations.

Leasing and Subleasing

HOAs typically have guidelines about renting a home.  With the growing popularity of short term rentals in Arizona, HOA board members will want to understand the evolving laws in this particular area.  We posted a previous article on what Arizona HOAs need to know about short term rentals.  This area of violations likely requires a review of your community bylaws and state laws with an experienced Arizona HOA law firm, but you can prepare some notices so the whole community is aware of your rules and regulations.

From the start, most new board members quickly learn that a community association board demands their attention and effort. To make sure those efforts are productive and beneficial, you want to work with an Arizona law firm specializing in association representation that can help you develop HOA violation letter templates and understand when to use them. HOAs can also create templates for board meeting agendas and meeting minutes that will make it easier to communicate with the whole community and document the process.  The Brown Law Group only represents Arizona associations and planned communities. We can handle HOA general counsel needs, covenants enforcement, assessment collections, and any litigation that might arise. Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment on our contact us page.

Arizona HOA Board Members

How Arizona HOA Board Members Can Create and Maintain Effective Covenant Enforcement

Homeowners’ associations and board members have a central purpose of building and maintaining a community that members enjoy living in.  The main driving force of that structure of community is the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) that establish the rules that the members must follow. In most cases, the Board of Directors also has the authority to adopt additional rules, regulations, and policies. By purchasing a home in the community, all members are on notice of the rules, and agree to follow them. Board members have a responsibility to make sure these rules and regulations are clearly and fairly enforced.  An HOA that fails to enforce the covenants will quickly find a growing list of serious issues.  Any board that selectively enforces the rules, whether it’s regarding certain people or certain rules, will likely lose the confidence of members as well.  To help make sure your association is focused on the right things, we put together a guide on how Arizona HOA board members can create and maintain effective covenant enforcement.

How Can an Arizona HOA Enforce Rules?

For any HOA board to be effective they must understand how an Arizona HOA can enforce rules.  All associations should adopt an enforcement and fine policy that lays out the process for enforcement. There are some standard options and processes available to any HOA to address members that violate the rules:

  • Standard Warning Notices – Arizona HOAs are required to provide proper written notice of any violations to the member(s) in question. To simply and expedite this process, it is important to have some standard templates in place.  It is advisable to work with an HOA attorney on these warning templates and review individual infractions to make sure they are addressed correctly.  The enforcement and fine policy should allow deviation from the standard process when appropriate, for example severe violations.
  • Imposing A Penalty – If any association member violates the rules and guidelines stated in the governing documents, the board members should be prepared to issue fines for non-compliance after the appropriate opportunity to cure the violation has passed. Arizona law provides that fines must be reasonable. The enforcement and fines policy should include presumptive fines for run of the mill violations, but also provide factors for the board to evaluate when determining the fine for less standard violations. For members that continue to violate the rules, it might even be necessary to restrict their rights and community privileges, if allowed by the governing documents.

  • Help from an HOA Attorney– If penalties do not get a member to comply with the rules, the association might be forced to pursue legal action. The Brown Law Group offers an enforcement letter program that is very successful in getting owners to comply.

  • Contact Police – Board members can only take enforcement so far and should never put themselves at risk. If a violation escalates to illegal and/or dangerous acts, then it is always appropriate to report the matter to the police and allow the justice system to take the lead.  Some matters simply must be handled by the appropriate authorities to avoid escalation and unnecessary risk to any other members.  Criminal charges against a member can make the process of dealing with their violations easier as well.

More Effective Covenant Enforcement with an Arizona HOA Law Firm

It can be complicated and time-consuming to create enforceable covenants, clearly communicate those to community members, develop a process for addressing violations, and follow through with prompt enforcement actions against any violations.  One of the most effective ways to make sure your homeowners’ association is handling all the details of covenant enforcement correctly is to work with an HOA law firm that specializes in HOA representation.  The Brown Law Group only represents associations and planned communities in Arizona.  Our firm can assist with every detail of covenant enforcement. The Brown Law Group can assist with preparing an effective enforcement and fines policy. 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 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 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 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.