Dealing With Homeowners Associations Just Got Easier

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Until recently, challenging one's homeowners association was an intimidating and expensive affair. No longer.

An alternative for people who want to challenge their homeowners associations was recently signed into law by Gov. Janet Napolitano.

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State Representative Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert)

House Bill 2824 will allow the case to be heard by an administrative law judge for a yet-to-be-determined fee, rather than airing problems before a Superior Court judge.

"For a homeowner to go into court and challenge their HOA on any issues they might have, the barrier is significant, as

much as $10 to $15 thousand dollars," said Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert) one of the authors of the bill. "We've been looking for a couple of years to find an alternative."

The new law, that goes into effect Sept. 28, provides alternative dispute resolution through the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings.

There are more than 30 homeowners associations in Payson.

Bob Berthloff, president of Payson North III's HOA doesn't see the new law having much impact on his neighborhood, which is small and doesn't see many complaints.

The Payson North III covenants, conditions and restrictions of are almost the identical to those held by the Town of Payson. Occasionally there is a problem if someone builds a four foot fence, he said, even though that is according to town code. The homeowners association says fences can only be three feet.

Maria Heller, new president of the Forest Park homeowners association, hopes her neighborhood can deal with any disputes without having to turn to the courts, expensive or not.

"I just became president of this association (Forest Park) and my whole basis here is to deal with my neighbors in a friendly way," she said. Heller was previously on a homeowners association board in Phoenix.

"An association can't be about fines to make lives miserable for people. It has to be about if your neighbor has a problem and can't fix it, maybe we can help them.

"To me, I say to hell with the courts, we should be dealing with each other."

-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail clavalley@payson.com.

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