office to help residents in HOA disputes should be set up
Courtesy of The East Valley Tribune
February 7, 2005
the Arizona Legislature passed some badly needed homeowners
association reforms, abuses haven't stopped. That is because
homeowners are still pretty much on their own when they want to
challenge an HOA rule or enforcement action they deem unjust or
The Kourys of Gilbert
know what a frustrating, lonely battle that can be. As the
Tribune's Le Templar reported on Monday, the couple has had
trouble getting plumbing and other problems in their condominium
taken care of by their HOA even though they pay $100 a month in
dues. And last year, when the complex's swimming pool turned
green, they couldn't get answers on what the problem was.
People in the Kourys' predicament don't have a local or state
agency they can call when things turn sour with an HOA. Often the
only recourse is to hire a lawyer at their own expense. Adding
insult to injury is the fact that their own HOA dues are going to
pay the association's lawyers that will be battling them in court.
We've urged the Legislature repeatedly in this space in recent
years to create an HOA ombudsman's office — possibly in the
Arizona Attorney General's Office. Or it could be an arm of the
County Attorney's Office.
It would act much like the state attorney general's
Someone with a complaint about their HOA would be able to call,
write or e-mail the office. A specialist would analyze the
complaint and determine if it had merit; people grousing about
normal HOA rules presumably would be told to comply or move. But
someone else who, say, faced a large fine for not trimming a hedge
just so, or failing to bring a trash barrel in pronto, would get a
sympathetic ear. As with the consumer complaint office, the
specialist might try to get the complaint resolved without
resorting to legal action.
But in cases of blatant abuse where HOAs were levying exorbitant
penalties for petty infractions, the agency ought to have the
legal teeth to stop the abuse and even exact penalties. Due
process must prevail, with each side's rights being respected.
This is the kind of meaningful reform needed to protect not only
homeowners who are wronged, but also homeowners who buy into HOAs
because of the benefits these associations provide, including
maintenance of common areas and protection of property values.
Unfortunately, as in years past, several bills have been
introduced intended to cripple HOAs' ability to perform the
legitimate functions they are intended to perform. Those should be
defeated, and true reform, in the form of an ombudsman's office,
should be passed.