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Arizona HOA Laws

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

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

Factors and Considerations for Community EV Charging Stations in HOAs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possible Complaints About EV Charging Stations

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

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

Find the Best HOA Law Firm in Arizona

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

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Arizona HOA Laws

Most Common Issues that Lead to HOA Litigation in Arizona

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

Failure to Pay Assessments

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

Violation Enforcement

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

Failure to Maintain Common Areas

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

Denying Member Requests

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

Discrimination

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

Disputes Over Actions by Board of Directors

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

HOA Election Issues

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

HOA Pet Policies and Issues

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

Tips to Avoid HOA Litigation in Arizona

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

Get an Experienced HOA Attorney

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

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

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Arizona HOA Laws

Can Your HOA Prohibit Short Term Rentals in Arizona?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find an Experienced Arizona HOA Law Firm

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

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

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Arizona HOA Laws

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

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

HOAs: Federal and State Laws

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

Federal Laws Governing the Operation of HOAs in Arizona

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

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

Arizona HOAs and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

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

Applying the Fair Housing Act as an HOA

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

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

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

Freedom to Display the American Flag Act

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

Benefits of Working with an Arizona HOA Law Firm

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

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

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Arizona HOA Laws

What Arizona HOAs Need to Know About HB2131 and Artificial Turf Laws in Planned Communities

It should come as no surprise to Arizona residents that the state needs to find ways to effectively conserve water.  This can be at odds with Arizona associations and planned communities that restricted members from replacing natural grass with artificial turf.  In response to some property owners that faced substantial fines from their HOA for installing artificial turf in their yard, Arizona passed HB2131 to establish laws that prevent HOAs from restricting members from replacing natural grass with artificial tur =if that HOA permits natural grass.  Here is what HOAs and members need to know about HB2131 and artificial turf laws in Arizona planned communities.

Debate on Water Usage and Artificial Turf in Arizona

The debate over appropriate measures for water conservation and sustainable growth in Arizona has been going on for decades.  However, the drought impacting the Southwest and some of the recent decisions regarding the Colorado river has made the issue more important than ever before.  For the first time ever in August 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation announced a water shortage at Lake Mead and mandatory water restrictions were put in place for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.  The federal government agency’s plans to release less water this year has left Arizona cities and towns scrambling to find immediate ways to reduce water usage in their areas.

Natural grass lawns require a lot of water, especially in places as hot as the Phoenix valley.  Any areas where natural grass can be removed will cut down on water usage.  Installing artificial turf keeps the same aesthetic appeal without any need for water and maintenance.  One of the main problems is that artificial turf gets extremely hot during Arizona summers.  Recent studies have shown that artificial turf actually gets hotter than asphalt during the day so homeowners should not assume covering their whole yard in artificial grass is the perfect solution.

What is Arizona HB2131?

Governor Ducey signed HB2131 into law on March 30, 2022 to establish rules against banning artificial turf by associations and planned communities.  The bill faced substantial debate before being passed in the first Arizona legislative session of the year.  Here are the most important aspects of HB2131 for HOAs and association members to understand:

Planned communities in Arizona that allow natural grass on a member’s property cannot ban the installation or use of artificial turf on the property of any of its members. This new law does not apply to condominiums. 

Planned communities can adopt and enforce reasonable regulations regarding installation, aesthetics, and appearance of the artificial turf, as long as those rules do not prevent installing artificial turf the same way that natural grass is allowed by the community documents.

HB2131 affirms that planned communities can establish rules regarding the location on the property and the percentage of the property that can be covered with natural grass or artificial turf, as long as they are treated the same.

Planned communities can prohibit the installation of artificial turf in the following circumstances:

If the planned community has banned new installation of natural grass on member properties, it can also ban installation of artificial turf.  However, the HOA cannot deny a member from converting natural grass to artificial turf on their property.

If the area of the property is maintained or irrigated by the association in the governing documents, like a common area or front yard, the planned community can prohibit the installation of artificial turf.

For artificial turf, HOAs can require the following:

Remove and replace the artificial turf if it is not maintained according to the HOA’s maintenance standards.

Removal of the artificial turf that the member has already installed if that artificial turf creates any health or safety issues or hazards, especially if the member has not corrected the problem.

This law will not apply to any planned community with some unique vegetation or geologic characteristics that need preservation by the HOA. Those characteristics and features are enhanced, supported, or viably protected because of the natural landscaping materials that have continuously existed.

Handling Artificial Turf Laws as an Arizona HOA

When new laws pass that impact associations and planned communities specifically, it is advisable to review your covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) to make sure there are no rules that need to be updated.  If your community has debated how to handle landscaping issues like artificial turf or removal of natural grass, it is an important time to work with an HOA law firm to make sure your governing documents are not at odds with HB2131 and the new artificial turf laws in Arizona.  The Brown Law Group only represents associations and planned communities in Arizona.  Our experienced HOA attorneys can quickly review your governing documents and assess any required updates.  Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online here.

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

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Arizona HOA Laws

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.

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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.  Other records, such as Board meeting minutes should be kept for at least seven (7) years.  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 the Brown Law Group 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.  The Brown Law Group 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.

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

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Arizona HOA Laws

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.

Categories
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.

 

Categories
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.