As a member of the Arizona Association of REALTORS® (Association), you are afforded numerous benefits. The Association fights to protect you and your business, both on legislative as well as legal fronts, and many times these protections merge to combat efforts that would directly affect your business. One such attack on a valuable member benefit came late last year at which time the Arizona REALTORS® sprang into action.

By way of background, the Arizona Supreme Court established the Arizona Commission on Access to Justice (Commission) on August 20, 2014. The Commission was formed to study and make recommendations on methods to promote access to justice for individuals who cannot afford legal counsel or who have chosen to represent themselves in civil cases.

Through the Commission, the Self-Represented Litigant in Limited Jurisdiction Courts Workgroup (Workgroup) was created. The Workgroup is comprised of tenant representatives, court administrators, judicial officers and various attorneys — including two whose practice focuses on representing residential landlords.

The original intent of the Workgroup was to develop court forms, such as notices and pleadings, for voluntary use by self-represented residential landlords and tenants in conjunction with Forcible or Special Detainer Actions (Eviction Actions).

Throughout the Workgroup process, the attorneys representing landlords raised multiple concerns with the draft proposals, but were frequently overruled or outvoted. Nonetheless, the Workgroup members were continually assured that the forms would be optional. However, on May 18, 2016, the Commission rescinded the original agreement to make the forms available for voluntary use and instead voted to make the forms mandatory for all parties, including landlords represented by counsel.

The Commission then filed a Petition with the Arizona Supreme Court seeking a change in court rules to mandate use of the aforementioned Eviction Action forms.

Although the Arizona REALTORS® agrees with the intended goal of promoting access to justice, the Association believes that mandatory forms would create several unintended consequences including, but not limited to the elimination of many of our property management forms. Secondly, the forms the Commission seeks to mandate are simply not on par with the established and proven Arizona REALTORS® forms, or forms that attorneys typically prepare and utilize.

Due to these concerns, the Association’s legal department filed an objection to the Petition with the Supreme Court on September 9, 2016. and its government affairs department advanced legislation (HB 2237) that would prohibit any agency or court from adopting mandatory forms for Eviction Actions.

While the bill moved through the process, objection was voiced by only two entities, whereas the bill received overwhelming support from the Arizona REALTORS®, Manufactured Housing Communities of AZ, Arizona Multihousing Association, and many attorneys representing both landlords and tenants.

As a result, HB 2237 was approved in both the House of Representatives and Senate, ultimately reaching the Governor’s desk and signed on March 21, 2017.

All legislation that does not have a specific enactment or delayed-enactment date will become effective 90 days after the legislature Sine Dies (adjourns). Due to the passage of HB 2237, a Request to Dismiss the Commission’s Petition was filed with the Supreme Court requesting that the Court vacate or dismiss the proposal to mandate the use of Eviction Action forms.

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