PHOENIX – State lawmakers are taking steps to ensure that if you love your condo, you can keep it.
The House voted on Thursday to repeal laws that allow any investor who acquires 80% of the units in any condominium complex to then force the owners of the remaining 20% to sell.
The bipartisan 45-14 tally now sends the measure to the Senate.
These are long-standing laws that deal with condo real estate developments, where areas are designated for individual ownership, with the rest considered common property.
These laws also put in place procedures for dissolving co-ownership agreements, including saying that it can be done with the consent of at least 80% of the owners.
There are provisions for appraisals of units from those who do not want to sell as well as relocation costs. But Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler, said that still wasn’t fair.
He said developers come in, make offers that 80% of owners are willing to accept, and then are able to force everyone else.
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“I just think it’s a practice that should be eliminated altogether,” Weninger said.
Anyone who cares about the lack of affordable housing should want to repeal this law, he said.
“This, here, takes existing housing, where people live there for a sometimes modest amount of money, and in a market that’s going straight up, lets a developer, not from this state, from Chicago, other places , come into this state and force these people to sell their condos to them,” Weninger said.
“And what do they do right now?” He continued. “They double the price.”
Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix, was among those supporting the measure.
“When you buy a house, a condo is yours,” she said. “It should be yours for as long as you choose to live there. The idea that someone can see a bigger profit and come and take it from you is ridiculous.
She said there had been real victims.
“A woman with a significant disability bought her condo specifically because it was close to what was important to her,” things like shopping, transportation and her doctor, Longdon said.
What happened, she said, was that the value of the condo went up and a developer asked owners of other units to sell.
“They tried to force her out,” offering her far less than she would have needed to care for herself and her adult son, Longdon said.
She said the only thing that saved her was the negative publicity that forced the developer to back down. But this woman’s victory in this case is not a real solution to the problem, Longdon said.
“We shouldn’t be forcing people into poverty because a promoter found more profit in their unit than they did,” she said.