Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, squared off against a room full of property managers and homeowners association board members during a panel discussion Saturday, criticizing legislators who have empowered HOAs with the right to foreclosure.
"I don’t think somebody should lose their home because they didn’t bring their garbage can in," Farnsworth said during a discussion of HOA-related legislation at the Congress of Neighborhoods community expo in Gilbert.
Several audience members shot back, saying associations need strong means to enforce the rules property owners agree to when they sign their covenants, codes and restrictions.
"I think a lot of people forget that when they move into a neighborhood, they know what they have to do," Candlewood Homeowners Association president Veronica Ross said.
Farnsworth was the most outspoken among politicians in attendance, including fellow panelists Rep. Andy Biggs and Sen. Thayer Verschoor, both R-Gilbert, and attendee Mayor Steve Berman.
Legislation passed in the late 1990s to give HOAs more leverage when dealing with delinquent members did a disservice to voters, Farnsworth said, because it enabled associations to take drastic measures without any burden of proof.
"HOAs are treated differently than everybody else in this country except government," he said. "If they are go ing to be quasigovernmental agencies, then we at the Legislature probably need to regulate them and make sure they are operating properly."
He promised to continue efforts to have lawmakers revoke the power to foreclose on homes and impose other sanctions without due process.
Farnsworth said two bills proposed for the current legislative session relate to HOAs. One would eliminate proxy votes in favor of absentee ballots. The other would allow homeowners to sue associations in justice of the peace courts rather than in county superior courts.