HOAs are a business anomaly. Anyone living in one knows that. They don’t operate like other multi-million-dollar corporations, and no two are identical. However, they share similar challenges and concerns, so let’s look at a few of the most common.
On street parking
As of now, the city of Maricopa owns and maintains the streets, unless you live in a gated community where the association handles street maintenance. City code parking regulations apply to city-maintained streets, but parking may also be addressed in HOA documents. Nevertheless, A.R.S. §33-1818 mandates that HOAs established after December 31, 2014 (as determined by the recording date of the CC&Rs) “shall not regulate any roadway for which the ownership has been dedicated to or is otherwise held by a governmental entity.”
HOAs are legally bound to enforce governing documents. Typical enforcement actions include issuing written violation notices and levying fines as appropriate. Maricopa PD enforces city parking code, not HOA rules. Police can issue citations or remove vehicles under certain circumstances. For more information, see Maricopa City Code, Chapter 10 – Vehicle & Traffic, Section 20 – Stopping, Standing, and Parking.
Vacant lots/idle vehicles
These situations depend on specific circumstances. Options may involve a combination of HOA and police enforcement actions. See City Code, 10.20.030.
Situations vary and may constitute a nuisance. Applicable violations are cited in HOA CC&Rs as well as city code. Enforcement begins with the HOA, and usually includes determining what neighbor-to-neighbor actions, if any, have been taken.
Many owners ask their HOA to take action in these cases, but do not supply their HOA with the necessary tools to do so (i.e., audio/video recordings, barking “logs” noting dates, times, and durations, etc.). Help your HOA help you! Each case is different, and might involve city code enforcement, animal control, and Maricopa police.
Similar to barking dogs, nuisance or noise violation enforcement begins at the HOA level but may involve other agencies. For more information, refer to Maricopa City Code, Chapter 9 – Offenses, Section 9.20 – Noise.
Almost every community has “that house”, the one with myriad violations that annoy responsible owners and diminish neighborhood aesthetics.
Enforcement begins at the HOA level, as property maintenance is the owner’s responsibility. The HOA is obligated to visually inspect each lot for compliance with established maintenance standards (i.e., CC&Rs/Arch. Rules). Inspections generally pertain to visible front/side exterior areas or rear yards if the lot has view/no fencing.
The HOA makes regular visual inspections, records violations by address, and issues written violation notices. There may be photographic documentation as well. Typically, initial contact is a written “courtesy notice,” informing the owner of the specific violations and specifying the time allowed to correct them. Subsequent inspections note if violations have been resolved or not. Additional notices are sent, and fines may be imposed.
An owner has the right to appeal a violation notice or fine to the HOA Board of Directors upon written request. AZ statute does not require a board to allow in-person appeals, and some communities accept only written appeals. For more information, ask about your HOA’s procedure or consult your Community Manager or Management Company.
If HOA efforts have been exhausted and violations are not corrected, HOAs can file injunctive lawsuits if owners do not resolve violations. HOAs cannot lien a property for maintenance violations, only unpaid assessments. Another option is Maricopa Code Enforcement, and the city of Maricopa can impose fines and lien a property for municipal code violations. In both cases, due process is afforded as is the right to appeal.
Despite common perceptions, HOAs and cities are not in the business to make money by assessing fines. In many instances, the HOA and the city may agree to waive enforcement fines in exchange for an owner’s cooperation. Both entities share the goal of achieving the homeowner’s voluntary compliance.
HOAs do not enforce city ordinances or codes, and a city does not enforce HOA regulations. A resident may initiate a complaint with either entity when appropriate, but it must be documented and generally cannot be anonymous.
Another philosophy is neighbors helping neighbors. Volunteers work to help resolve violations by pulling weeds, painting, trimming landscaping or whatever needs doing. These win-win scenarios resolve violations, improve neighbor relations and build stronger communities.
Partnerships are key, starting with effective communication among and between all parties as well as creating and maintaining positive relationships. Each entity knows and does their part, understanding respective roles and responsibilities. Collaboration and cooperation are essential. The result is informed and responsible residents, maintained properties, and improved neighborhoods.