The first thing that you should do is to know what the laws are that govern the conduct of associations.
If you review the statutes found online, starting at A.R.S. §33-1801 you will probably see statutes and regulations on homeowner’s associations that your association is violating. Some of the highlights of these statutes are:
- The maximum late fee that an association can charge is $15.00 or ten percent (10%) of the amount due, whichever is greater.
- The maximum total amount that the association can charge related to the transfer of the property is $400.00. And: The amount can only be charged upon the successful closing of an escrow. Therefore, a property transferred without the employment of an escrow company is not subject to the transfer fee. (Note: if there are pre-paid or back-owed regular HOA dues to be paid at closing, those amounts are usually not covered by this limit.)
- Upon written request within ten (10) business days from the date of a notice of violation, the association must provide the homeowner with certain information, including the specific provision of the CC&Rs that are alleged to have been violated and the first and last name of the person that reported the violation.
- The association cannot refuse to accept a partial payment of the amounts owed to the association. Instead, the association must apply all payments to the member’s account and in the following order: Unpaid assessments, late fees, costs of collection, and attorneys’ fees and costs. The homeowner may also direct a payment to be applied to a certain specified item.
The second thing that can be done with an overbearing homeowner’s association is to terminate the property management company and hire a more reasonable one.
Unfortunately, there are no licensing requirements for homeowner associations property management companies. This means that anyone can start a property management company for HOAs regardless of experience. And, as with any profession, some management companies are better than others. Many times it is the property management company that is the one that is overbearing. Terminating the property management company may improve the culture of the community.
Many times, the individual homeowners who serve on the HOA Board are hard working and well-meaning volunteers. They’re genuinely trying to create, maintain or re-create a great community environment for all homeowners. But sometimes, the HOA problems are actually caused by an individual HOA Board member (or group of members) who is out of line.
Whether the problem is the management company or the Board members themselves, the solution is a long-term project, not a short-term fix. Replacing the management company takes time and you probably might need to be a member of the HOA Board to make this happen. At a minimum, you’ll need a group of homeowners willing to support the effort to replace the management company. Replacing individual HOA Board members also takes time, since you must launch your effort when there’s an open Board seat up for election and find a candidate willing to run and serve.
Would you like more advice or advice personalized for your situation? We offer creative fee arrangements, including some types of flat fee billing. We also offer some types of “pay-as-you-go” or “unbundled legal services.” Learn more about those here, and then give us a call. We’ll be happy to speak with you about handling your HOA.
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