AZ first-year OAH statistics for HOA cases: a great start, but abuses must be corrected

The unfounded fears of massed Office of Administrative Hearings, OAH,  complaints by disgruntled homeowners that resulted in the legislature imposing a $550 filing fee, raised to $2,000 5 months later and then lowered for a single case back to $550 in April, have been proven just  that —  completely unfounded.  The results after the first year “in business” reveals:

HOA cases:            38

decisions:                  32

Homeowners won:            10

HOAs won:                      14

split decisions:                     4

vacated decisions:               4

The homeowners won not 5% of the cases, as would be expected if the wild claims that “95% of the HOAs are good”, as alleged by HOA attorneys and lobbyists over the years were indeed true, but 42% of the cases. The first year statistics revealed that in most cases the homeowner was  a Pro Per facing an HOA attorney, and that ALL cases were filed by homeowners and not one by an HOA.  Bear in mind that the decisions are based on the adhesion contract nature of the HOA governing documents, the general lack of legal knowledge by the homeowner petitioner, and the HOA supportive state laws — all serving to create a “playing field” that is not level.

The miniscule HOA cases that were filed, in contrast to some  7,360 cases heard by OAH in 2006 (that’s a mere 1.7%), does not warrant the imposition of a $550 or $2,000 fee.  The legislature must remove this requirement that treats homeowners in HOAs as second class citizens. Research into OAH fees for agency filings shows that over 78% (top 4 agencies) paid no fee whatsoever.  

It is time for the legislature to recognized that they have been mislead over the years by the fear mongering lobbyists who seek to treat HOAS as independent principalities free from government oversight.  A review of the audiotapes of the OAH hearings provides a wealth of information regarding HOA attorney courtroom tactics against the Pro Pers, and the hostile and arrogant attitude of HOAs toward obeying state laws and the HOA governing documents.  The tapes are an invaluable aide for homeowners who want to understand the law, and for HOA boards interested in following the law, with the result of  a better understanding of life in an HOA..

 In spite of a few learning curves by homeowners and OAH, the ALJ adjudication of homeowner complaints has been a success. While the adoption of OAH was a milestone in due process reforms for HOAs, there are more reforms necessary to restore the rights and freedoms of homeowners living in HOAs as enjoyed by homeowners not living in HOAs.

 

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Published in: on September 24, 2007 at 10:11 am  Leave a Comment  

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