The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the 2020 legislative session. While there were several bills introduced in 2020 that would have impacted community associations, the legislature adjourned early and none of those bills were signed by Governor Ducey. The Arizona legislature got back to work in 2021, passing several bills affecting community associations.
H2170 WRITS OF GARNISHMENT; ATTORNEY’S FEES
Collecting Attorney’s Fees for Garnishments
The legislature amended laws relating to garnishment in Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 12-1572, 12-1574, 12-1580, 12-1591, 12-1598.03, 12-1598.04, 12-1598.07, 12-1598.10, 12-1598.12, and 12-1598.15.
Collecting judgments in Arizona just became more cost effective. For some creditors, obtaining a judgment is just the start of collecting the money owed to them. A judgment in a collection lawsuit is simply a piece of paper ordering one party to pay another. When a judgment debtor fails to pay the money ordered by a court, garnishment can be a powerful tool.
In the past, garnishment proceedings only served to reduce the net proceeds due to a creditor as attorney fees and court costs were uncollectable in garnishment proceedings. The new legislation now places the monetary burden for failure to pay a judgment on the uncooperative debtor by allowing those attorney fees and costs to be awarded in a garnishment action.
When efforts to resolve a collection judgment through voluntary payments or settlement agreements cannot be reached, creditors may now proceed with garnishment and have a statutory basis to request an award of attorney fees and costs. Creditors no longer have to sacrifice money owed to them in pursuit of collection.
S1377 CIVIL LIABILITY; PUBLIC HEALTH PANDEMIC
This legislation amends Title 12, Chapter 5, Article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes, by adding section: 12-515; Relating to Civil Liability.
Civil Liability Protection Relating to Public Health Pandemic
This Senate Bill provides for a liability shield that would protect nonprofit organizations, including community associations, from lawsuits related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, our firm recommended that our communities close their amenities due to a lack of insurance coverage and a lack of a liability shield. Without a liability shield, if a Member or guest contracted Covid and alleged that it was contracted association’s amenities, the association would not have insurance to cover the defense of that claim. Whether the claim is valid would not matter much when the Association is required to pay out of pocket for its defense.
This liability shield now provides protection for community associations from such potential claims. Associations are now able to open their amenities. Reasonable precautions must still be taken. The liability shield will protect an association if it acted in good faith to protect members from Covid-19. The individual claiming that they contracted Covid-19 while using the association’s amenities must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the association failed to take adequate protection measures or acted with willful misconduct or gross negligence. If associations continue to enact appropriate precautions including enhanced cleaning, encouraging distancing, and requiring masks while using indoor amenities, the associations will be protected under the statute.
This legislation is retroactive and will protect community associations from claims for acts that occurred on or after March 11, 2020.
POLITICAL SIGNS; CONDOMINIUMS; PLANNED COMMUNITIES
This legislation amends sections: 16-1019, 33-1261 and 33-1808, Arizona Revised Statutes. This legislation applies to both Planned Communities and Condominium.
Definition of Political Sign
Political signs can be a contentious issue in community associations. In recent elections, tensions have increased in the political climate. While community associations must allow certain political signs, it is not always clear what type of sign qualifies as a political sign. This legislation adds some much-needed clarity by providing a definition of a political sign. A political sign is defined as one that attempts to influence the outcome of an election, including supporting or opposing the recall of a public officer or supporting or opposing the circulation of a petition for a ballot measure, question or proposition, or the recall of a public officer.
Display of Political Signs
The Arizona Planned Community Act and Arizona Condominium Acts previously provided that an association may prohibit the display of political signs earlier than seventy-one days before the day of an election and later than three days after an election. This legislation amends these timelines and provides some clarity.
This legislation provides that an association may prohibit the display of political signs as follows:
- Earlier than seventy-one days before the day of a primary election.
- Later than three days after the day of the general election.
- For a sign for a candidate in a primary election who does not advance to the general election, later than fifteen days after the primary election.
Let The Brown Law Group Assist Your Arizona Community Association
The Brown Law Group provides industry leading general counsel for HOAs and condominium associations throughout Arizona. Our firm regularly works with clients to address legal questions related to the community, management, enforcement, and collection of money due pursuant to the CC&Rs, Declaration, and governing documents. 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.