HOAs Targeted in State Campaign Finance Law

June 25, 2013
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By signing Senate Bill 1454 into law, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has pulled community associations into the fray of campaign finance legislation that critics have said is “sweeping.” They say that the pressure to pass the bill increased in the final hours of the legislative session, as it became a catchall for some stalled measures in the Arizona Senate and House. The new law will go into effect Sept. 13, 2013.

Now, planned communities are realizing what the new law means for them—it includes a slew of provisions that will change how homeowner associations do business—and they’re not happy. While the law technically addresses campaign finance, providing new rules on candidate disclosures in broadcast and print ads and preventing candidates from using public campaign dollars to promote a business, it also prohibits associations from limiting the number of political signs someone can display, forbids local governments from requiring developers to establish a homeowner association, and bans homeowner associations from performing background checks on tenants.

Homeowner association officials opposed the rental property provision and had asked Brewer to veto the bill. They cited safety as the main issue, asserting that associations should be able to weed out unwanted tenants who are dangerous and who might drive down property values for homeowners. They talked about sex offenders, in particular, who might scare away other residents with children or pose a safety risk.

The Arizona League of Cities and Towns supported the measure because it doesn’t prohibit developers from establishing homeowner associations, saving cities and towns from being responsible for maintaining trees and parks in HOA communities, which can be costly.

A representative from the Community Associations Institute in Arizona predicted that people will still demand community rules from developers to ensure that their neighbors don’t do anything aesthetically offensive, lowering home values. That sentiment has been echoed by real estate experts who contend that, at the end of the day, planned communities are market driven and consumers won’t stop wanting the protection they provide.

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