Harper resurrects condo bill - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Harper resurrects condo bill

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Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2011 9:53 am

A bill that would take some power away from condominium associations and allow condo owners to rent their properties has made it to the Legislature again but in a different form.

Rep. Jack Harper of Surprise, R-District 4, has resurrected the bill by amending another piece of legislation. Essentially, House Bill 2545, which had raised much concern in the Sun Cities because some feared it could affect the communities’ age overlay status, is back as part of HB 2558.

The new bill has similar wording to the original, which went nowhere in the Legislature, but includes one important change: If a no-rental clause was in place at the time of the unit purchase, that contract will still stand.

Even so, Reps. Rick Gray and Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-District 9, are prepared to vote no on the new bill when it comes before the full GOP caucus.

“I will vote any way my constituents want me to,” Lesko said and, in this case, that is no.

Added Gray: “I don’t think passing legislation is the way to do this.”

The new wording is attached to a bill concerning landlords forced to pay their former tenants unpaid utility bills, which Lesko and Gray had previously supported. But, Gray said, that bill has been “completely gutted and changed.”

Gray said he believed the original condo bill violated contract law, and he fought it.

“I thought it was just lawsuits waiting to happen,” Gray said.

Since this new bill doesn’t “arbitrarily negate” no-rental clauses in existing contracts, Gray said it is a move in the right direction, but he will still vote against it.

“I think it’s kind of trying to go halfway,” Gray said of the new bill. “I’ve made it plain that I’m going to vote no on it.”

Linda Lindquist, Sun City Home Owners Association board president, said while some people might not be able to sell their homes and are looking to rent, the bill has the potential to hurt all condo owners.

Lindquist explained if more than 50 percent of a condo community leases to renters, the building classifications change, and all utilities would be billed as a commercial property, leading to potential increases in water, gas, and more for everyone in that condo association.

“The bottom line is, it’s the unintended consequences,” Lindquist said.

Lesko and Gray were uncertain when a vote will occur on the new bill.

“I’m working on it,” Lesko said, regarding changes to benefit her constituents.

Both versions of the bill include stipulations that a condo owner would not need to supply the condo association with a copy of their contract with a renter, which raised concerns that Sun City’s age restrictions might be in danger, but Lesko said that would not be a problem.

“The whole age thing, that really is not a factor,” Lesko said. Sun City’s CC&Rs would still hold true for anyone living in their community, whether they are buying or renting.

While Gray and Lesko have been receiving many emails and calls about the condo bill, Gray recommended that concerned Sun Citians contact all the legislators, since everyone will be voting on the bill.

“This bill might not even make it all the way through, we just don’t know,” Lesko said.

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