Self-help, which typically means a community association’s right to cure a violation on a lot/unit, is somewhat of a controversial legal remedy. The authority to exercise self-help, circumstances under which self-help is allowable and/or advisable, and the proper protocol (i.e., procedure, notice, etc.) are all dependent upon the provisions in the governing documents.
However, if your community is considering exercising self-help and/or if your community previously exercised self-help, a recent Arizona Court of Appeals decision may be of interest. In Avalon Hills Condominium Association v. Roger M. Lang, et al., the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s findings that a community association’s self-help costs are considered not only the personal obligation of the owner, but also a lien against the owner’s lot/unit.
In Avalon Hills, the trial court originally granted judgment in favor of the association and against the Langs, which provided, in relevant part, that the judgment:
(1) included a permanent injunction directing the Langs to “bring Unit 270 into compliance with the Declaration on or before August 31, 2020, and then to continue keeping Unit 270 in compliance;” (2) granted the Association the ability to bring Unit 270 into compliance should the Langs not do so; (3) determined that “any monies expended” to bring Unit 270 into compliance “are, per Articles 5 and 7 of the Declaration, not only the personal obligation of [the Langs], but also, secured by a lien against Unit 270, and treated in the same manner as a past due Assessment as per Article 7.2.4 of the Declaration;” and (4) awarded the Association attorneys’ fees and costs.
After the Langs failed to bring the lot/unit into compliance, the association expended monies to contract with a private security company to monitor the Langs’ lot/unit in an effort to abate the violations. The trial court awarded the association a supplemental judgment for the costs of the private security company and determined that such costs are considered not only the personal obligation of the owner, but also a lien against the owner’s lot/unit.
Pursuant to Arizona law, community association liens are potentially subject to foreclosure (contingent upon meeting certain statutory requirements), and therefore, the implication is that self-help charges are potentially subject to foreclosure.
If your community is considering exercising self-help as a legal remedy and/or if your community has previously exercised self-help and is having trouble collecting the charges, please contact Mulcahy Law Firm, P.C. for legal assistance.
 Please note that this case is unpublished and therefore does not create binding precedent in Arizona.