Problem with your HOA? State agency offers 'cheaper' alternative to court

PHOENIX - Despite their size and power, homeowners associations in Arizona go largely unregulated.

So serious problems between residents and HOAs typically have to be settled in court.

RELATED: Trouble with your homeowners association? How to fight back

It's an expensive process, but there is a supposedly less expensive option offered through the State.

The Arizona Department of Fire, Building, Life and Safety is the agency that enforces fire codes, and safety for mobile homes.

In 2011 state lawmakers gave them the power to resolve HOA disputes with the Homeowners Association Dispute Process.

A single issue costs $550. The price goes up to $2,000 for multiple issues.

Not exactly cheap, but spokesperson Holly Textor says it's designed to be less than hiring an attorney.

"You are saving a significant amount of money by using this process because its a judicial process," said Textor.

She also says the agency can only take on your case if it violates state law or your neighborhood CC&Rs.

So if you don't like you community's management company or you want to fight a lien, they probably won't be able to help.

Textor says the main complaints they see are about "violation of public meeting law."

The case is heard by an administrative law judge who issues a legally binding judgment.

And if you win, you get your money back.

If not, you could end up paying the HOA's filing and attorney's fees.

"The hope is that they pay less than having to pay a lot in more in court," said Textor.

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