For many, buying a home in Arizona may involve a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). These neighborhood groups enforce the community’s Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R’s) and ensure that homeowner members are up to date on their dues and following the terms of their agreements. When everything goes well, the elected HOA officials and HOA members co-exist peacefully, and the HOA’s decisions are made for the benefit of the neighborhood. However, in some situations, HOA leaders may be acting outside of their authority and mistreating members. Unfortunately, HOA complaints are relatively commonplace in Arizona, raising the question: Are Arizona’s HOAs Out of Control?
Selective Enforcement and Discrimination
One way that a HOA can violate its duties is by singling out a homeowner for a violation, or selective enforcement. Another way an HOA can breach its duty to homeowners is by discriminating against them. Last year in Scottsdale, Sands Community resident Sean Bandawat received notice from his HOA that he needed to replace a damaged fence on the exterior of his townhome with a specific type of material or pay a $2,500 fine. According to Mr. Bandawat, several of his neighbors had similar non-compliant exterior conditions, but none were fined. In this case, Mr. Bandawat and his attorney are taking legal action against the HOA, and contend that Mr. Bandawat is being subjected to selective enforcement and that his race may be a factor.
In another case, Phoenix condominium resident, Ward Tyczka, claims that his HOA board violated the law after it voted unanimously to enact a provision stating that children under age 16 are not permitted to live in rental condominiums. He and his attorney filed suit against the HOA, claiming that the passage of this rule discriminates against people with children.
Arizona law does allow HOAs to enforce CC&R’s and to add additional restrictions and rules by vote. However, the law does not allow these powers to be used for discrimination. If a homeowner believes an Arizona HOA is being discriminatory, he or she can take legal action against the organization.
It may come as a surprise to learn that your HOA has the power to foreclose on your home. Even if you are up to date on your mortgage and homeowner’s policy, Arizona law does allow HOAs to pursue foreclosure under certain circumstances. Specifically, when a homeowner fails to pay dues for 12 months or has unpaid assessments of at least $1,200.00, an HOA can pursue foreclosure to recoup the amounts. HOAs can and do exercise this power. Although there are statutes that govern how an HOA must operate and when foreclosure is permitted, not all HOAs follow these laws.
In 2017, the Arizona Republic investigated HOA foreclosure cases and found that Phoenix HOAs were foreclosing on homeowners in record numbers. It’s vital that you continue to pay your dues and assessments even if you disagree with your HOA as non-payment can open the door to a foreclosure action. If you have fallen behind on payments or are already facing foreclosure, it’s crucial that you contact an Arizona real estate attorney to discuss your situation as soon as possible.
If you have a dispute with your HOA, we can help you evaluate the situation and determine your options for resolving the problem. Attorney Laura B. Bramnick is an experienced Arizona real estate attorney who has the expertise to help you problem-solve issues with your HOA. If you are seeking an exceptional, client-driven real estate lawyer in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Sedona, and throughout the State of Arizona, contact Laura B. Bramnick to schedule your consultation.