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HOAs may face restrictions on document fees

All the big guns have been drawn for the perennial battle over just what exactly homeowners associations may do.

For 2011, it’s over how much an association can charge for processing documents when a resident is selling his or her house.

Sen. Andy Biggs, a Republican from Gilbert, wants to limit the fee to a per-page cost of 10 cents for the documents.

When a property is being sold, the homeowners association is required to provide to the buyer a packet of information, which must include, for example, a copy of the association’s bylaws.

At a hearing Jan. 26 of the Senate Government Reform Committee, Amanda Shaw, a representative of the Arizona Association of Community Managers, said that each of the transactions the homeowners associations work on requires “more work than just making copies.”

Biggs was unconvinced.

“These are computer printouts,” he said, “and they’re telling us that they need to be charging three, five hundred (dollars), whatever it may be, because they’re inefficient.”

Under current law, the association is permitted to determine the fee as long as it’s “reasonable.”

“The problem is the fee is not very reasonable anymore,” Biggs said in an interview the day after the hearing. “The reason the Legislature can get involved is because we’re the ones that said they had to do something, we’re the ones that said they can set the fee and when we trusted them and said a reasonable fee, it turns out it’s not so reasonable.”

After hearing it on Jan. 26, the Senate Government Reform Committee passed the measure out to be heard on the Senate floor.

In the meantime, a compromise will be sought between the opposing sides of the argument.

The Arizona Association of Realtors, which supports the measure, and the Arizona Association of Community Managers, which opposes it, agreed to sit down and clarify any confusion about the various fees paid.

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