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Legally Speaking: Yes, Arizona HOAs could fine you for speeding

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LISTEN: Monica Lindstrom - Mac and Gaydos Legal Expert

Homeowners associations, aka HOAs, are abundant in Arizona. There are about 9,000 of them in our beautiful state.

Whether you love them or hate them, one thing is certain: They are powerful, so powerful, in fact that you may have to fork over your hard-earned money to them for speeding!

There are some HOAs who have taken it upon themselves to form “patrols” and check for speeders in their community. They have gone so far as to purchase radar equipment, take pictures of the offenders and then send a notice of violation/fine.

Right now, the questions circling your head are probably variations of: How can they do this? Is this legal? Is this fair? Should they be allowed to do this? When can they do this?

When you purchase a home in a community with an HOA, you sign a contract with it. In the contract, you agree to be bound by all the rules and regulations set by the organization.

The rules and regulations — and related violations you typically hear about or experience — deal with things such as weeds in the yard, leaving the trash can out, too many cars in the driveway overnight, a wrong paint color on the house or leaving up holiday decorations too long.

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list, but these are the things that I come into contact with in my mediation and law practice.

You can add speeding to that list.

How can an HOA do this? It can do this because you gave it the power when you signed the contract.

Is it legal? Yes. That contract is a valid under law and, because you signed it, you are bound by it.

If there is a provision in the contract that gives the HOA the power to enforce or create new rules for the safety of the community and fine you for speeding, there is not much you can do.

Now, you could refuse to pay the fine or acknowledge the HOA’s power, but that could result in late fees, more fines and to the extreme, a lawsuit to foreclose on your home.

Is this fair? It depends.

If you had notice and signed the contract then, legally speaking, it is fair under the law. In the court of public opinion, I would say there is a split — some believe it is fair and others believe it is way out of bounds.

Should an HOA be allowed to do this? This question, my friends, is a rhetorical one. It just depends on the people in that community. If you do not like it, try to make a change.

When can an HOA do this? Assuming the above, whenever they catch you speeding on the private streets within the community.

I live in a community with an HOA but my community has public streets all around it that are patrolled, and within the jurisdiction and power, of local law enforcement and it is not gated.

I doubt that my HOA would be successful in issuing me a speeding violation on public streets. Could it happen? Sure. I just don’t find it likely since that would raise issues of vigilantism.

Think of it this way: If HOAs had the power to ticket you on public streets, what is next? Could they arrest you for being too loud, smoking underage or not having your pet licensed?

Here is the bottom line: Just don’t speed in your community or anywhere else.

Okay, that probably isn’t realistic, so here is what I suggest: Check your agreement with the HOA so that you are aware of your obligations. Find out where the common areas are and whether there are any private streets.

Ask if they are patrolling the private streets and common areas in the community. If they are, keep your eyes open and your foot off the accelerator.

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