While you probably already know that a lender can foreclose on your home if you miss mortgage payments, many people are shocked when they learn that a homeowners association (HOA) can also foreclose on a home. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not find out until it is too late. In the Phoenix area, HOAs are leading a recent surge in home foreclosures. While we could get into the pros and cons of HOAs, that would constitute an entirely separate blog post. With more than 80 percent of new homes being built in the United States being part of some type of HOA, like them or love them, there is a decent chance that you or someone you love will be involved with one at some point or another. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on which types of rules are typical for an Arizona HOAs, what Arizona HOA laws you should be aware of and (God forbid) what you may need to know if it comes time to fight an HOA in court.
Typical HOA rules
You have all heard all of the jokes about the HOA and their enforcement of acceptable paint colors, holiday decorations and the like. Other typical Arizona HOA rules include things like limitations on on-street parking, requirements for keeping your front yard well kept and things of that nature. Many HOAs also ensure that common areas are cared for, that noise levels remain reasonable and that people clean up after their pets.
In some cases, some Arizona HOAs have taken their desire to maintain a pleasant neighborhood too far. To try to remedy the problem of HOAs drunk with power, recent Arizona HOA laws hold that an HOA cannot forbid you from installing solar panels or placing a “for sale” sign up outside of your home. Speaking of Arizona HOA laws …
Tired of your HOA and want to leave? Read our blog with tips to sell your home….fast!
Arizona HOA laws
According to Arizona HOA laws, an HOA has the option to foreclose on a home after a homeowner has missed a year of payments or reached a debt of $1,200 or more. Factor in the fact that penalties and late fees can be added to the mix, and it is fairly easy to see how some homeowners could surpass that debt threshold really quickly.
As a homeowner, you have certain rights under Arizona HOA laws that can work to your advantage. For example, you have a right to any of the HOA’s documents, meeting minutes or accounting records that are not protected under attorney-client privilege or another rare exception. One woman living in Mesa, overwhelmed by the number of citations and fine she received from her HOA requested its financial records, only to find that they were purchasing items like vodka, baby wipes and more. If you do not want to review those documents on site, they HOA must provide you with copies within 10 business days and charge you no more than 15 cents per printed page.
Another element of Arizona HOAs and the law you should be aware of is that if your HOA is about to foreclose on your home, you may be able to stop collection efforts by filing for bankruptcy and working with a judge toward a reorganization plan.
Depending on if your HOA represents a condominium association or a planned community association, different Arizona HOA laws may apply.
How to fight an Arizona HOAs in court
It should go without saying (you are on a real estate blog, after all) that we are not attorneys and this article in no way serves as a substitute for actual legal advice from, y’know, a lawyer. But while we may not have passed the bar, we do know a little bit …
First of all, fighting an HOA in court can be extremely expensive, so it is something that you will likely want to avoid if at all possible. Luckily, this type of court battle can be really costly for the HOA too, meaning that they may be open to a negotiation.
Depending on the nature of your dispute with the HOA, you will want to review pertinent sections of your Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, or CC&Rs, between yourself and the HOA. This information will be crucial whether you go the route of negotiation or if you end up in court. Furthermore, be sure to get everything in writing. Document everything you can to leave a helpful paper trail if you end up in court.
If you think that you have a case, based on some information implying the HOA is not upholding their duties, is discriminating against you or misappropriating funds, give us a call. We can recommend an attorney to give you a quick consultation to evaluate your situation and give you some more specific advice.
Or, if you would rather move into a community with an HOA that you will love, call us so that we can help you find the right house the first time. Whether you are craving no rules at all or you love the predictability and support of a good HOA, we’ve probably got a listing for you!