News and Insights

Visit regularly for up-to-date information on relevant news, firm announcements and additions to our AZ Health Law Blog.

Tips for Residential Landlords

If you have a home that you rent out, right now might not be the greatest time to be a landlord. Sometimes it can be a nightmare. Today we are going to give you six tips to make being a landlord a little easier.

  1. Rent during peak rental season.

Understand the time of year most tenants are looking to rent. The more applicants you have higher quality of applicant you are likely to get. Typically, it’s May through August for residential properties because people are out of school and they are making transitions. Many families do not want to move during the school year. So, optimize your vacancy cycle.

  1. Set aside 10% of income for repairs.

Many landlords get caught off guard because they do not have the money for repairs and they want to skimp on the repairs. You not only have legal responsibilities has a landlord to make repairs, it is also in your best interest to keep your tenant happy by making necessary repairs.

  1. Thoroughly screen tenants.

Treat your rental property like a business. Look for people with a stable income of at least three times the monthly rent. Run a credit check and background check. Make sure they do not have any recent evictions — that’s never a good sign. Also a good referral from a previous landlord is helpful.

  1. Do move-in and move-out inspections.

Property condition and security deposit disputes are at the center of most tenant disputes. So, it is important to document this. Have the tenant document and sign off on any damages before they move in. Because if the condition of the property ends up in court, you are going to need photos and documents to support your position. You can also shoot a video or take pictures of the property before move in and after the tenant vacates the property to help document any damages.

  1. Get landlord insurance.

The biggest protection a landlord has is to be covered by insurance. This protects the dwelling, detached structures, and personal property used to service the rental. It also covers you if someone is injured on your rental property.  Make sure you have the right type of insurance for your property.

  1. Have an enforceable lease.

Make sure you have an air-tight lease that includes favorable landlord terms. Terms should include the length of the lease, who will live there, when rent is due, late payment penalties, pet policy, maintenance responsibilities and the basis for eviction.  Have your lease reviewed by an attorney before signing it.

Residential landlords, if you have any questions contact Adam Buck.

January 25th, 2021

Posted In:

There are so many myths about Non Compete Agreements in Arizona. Are they ever enforceable? Are they enforceable if the employee was fired? Are they always enforceable?

January 25th, 2021

Posted In:

Many people think only the very wealth need an estate plan. They think if I’m not rich I don’t need one, but really an estate is a fancy word for everything you own. Whether it’s a lot or a little everyone has things that accumulate. No matter how small or large it is, you can’t take it with you when you die, you need to do something with it. The question is do you want to control how things are given, to whom they are given, including the organizations you care about most? Or are you going to leave it to the government to handle?

What is estate planning? Making a plan in advance and naming who you want to receive the things you own after you die.

Myth: Estate planning is only for the elderly. It would be nice to know when we die so we can plan accordingly but unfortunately, it’s not just the elderly that pass away, it’s all ages.

Myth: Estate planning is only for the wealthy. Like we already covered that is not the case.’

If you don’t make a plan at all, the government has created a plan for you. You might not like it or know about it and it may be completely different than what you want, but it is a plan. We don’t just let people’s things sit in limbo forever. There are statutes that say who gets what. The problem is it could get costly, you have to get courts and lawyers involved and it may not end up how you would like.

There is an option called a Last Will and Testament. This document provides instructions, but it does not avoid probate. You still need to get lawyers involved, go to court and get someone appointed as a Personal Representative, who is going to handle the distributions of your assets. So, it’s a step in the right direction but you still have to deal with probate.

Probate can take nine months to two years or even longer. It is open to the public and you are putting this burden on your family because you didn’t make a plan while you were alive.

A Revocable Trust is a written document that determines how your assets will be handled when you die. You appoint a trustee and you don’t need to go court or get lawyers involved. The Trustee just follows your instructions and if you titled your assets correctly it is a pretty seamless process. But what many people don’t understand is that you can make changes during the course of your life.

Cost. A lot of people want to know which is less expensive, a will or a trust. But it all depends on whether you are talking about the cost to you or to your family members. Certainly, doing nothing is the cheapest way to go for you. A will is the next least expensive, leaving the Trust to be the most expensive to you. However, if you look at it from a more realistic standpoint you’re actually saving your family time and money by doing the Trust.

The reality is that it will likely cost your estate two to three times more to have the court involved in the administration than you would actually pay an attorney to establish a Trust while you are alive. Relying on just a will places greater burden on your family members. You want to make it as easy as possible.

It is really a gift from you to your family when you take care of your estate in advance.

Is it time to make your estate plan? If you have made one, does it need to be updated? It’s definitely worth discussing. Big life events that should make you think of updating your trust would be, when you move, divorce, a marriage, when you have children, and when your children aren’t minors anymore. There are many events that you may want to think about when updating your estate plan.

There are other elements to estate planning as well. For example, we really recommend having a Health Care Power of Attorney that allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. All these elements including what happens to you when you pass away are really important for you to express now so it’s effective when you need it.

Let us know if we can be helpful. We have attorneys that are ready to assist when you need to consider what’s best for you and your family.

January 25th, 2021

Posted In:

Phoenix, AZ – Radix Law attorneys Jonathan Frutkin and Adam Buck have been hosting their weekly podcast “Small Business Update” throughout the pandemic. The podcast is included by all the major directory services, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher and iHeart Radio. The attorneys host and discuss the rapidly changing government programs, laws and regulations that effect small business owners, which is also broadcast on YouTube.

Each Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ) have appeared as guests, highlighting Congressional action that directly affects Arizona business owners during the crisis. The topics included the CARES Act, employment law, tax law and health care.

“I sincerely appreciate the attention that two philosophically different Congressman have given to the needs of business owners in Arizona.  Congressman Schweikert and Congressman Gallego have shown a commitment to keeping their constituents informed and encouraging feedback from the business community,” Jonathan Frutkin said.

The podcast has recently begun to focus on shorter weekly segments relating to legal topics that impact business owners. In honor of national Estate Planning Week, the new episode of the podcast will focus on the basics of what planning must get done.

October 20th, 2020

Posted In: Uncategorized

Phoenix – Radix Law is excited to announce the launch of a new virtual service that allows people to do their estate plan without ever having to leave their house. Radix Law recognizes that times are changing, and it is important to be flexible and adaptable to practical barriers to doing estate plan signings in person.

“What people may or may not know is that you need two witnesses and a notary – and that has always been the challenge for moving a service such as estate planning online,” said Jonathan Frutkin, founder and principal of Radix Law. “We are working with our partners to make this a possibility for the first time.”

The virtual estate planning route is quicker and helps those wishing to practice social distancing and can be done from any location in the world. In addition, during this difficult time, Radix Law is discounting its estate planning rates by reducing costs by a third.

“We recognize that people are reducing costs across the board – but planning your wishes or even who can carry out those wishes, is something that can’t be put on the backburner,” said Frutkin.

While you do still need two witnesses and a notary attend a signing, the Radix system allows you to do all that from your home, only using a computer.

The estate planning complete package also includes a durable health care power of attorney – which is necessary to let your loved one make decisions during a medical crisis. Radix Law believes everyone should have a plan in place. The Arizona Attorney General has a free form which you are able to download and use here.

March 24th, 2020

Posted In: Uncategorized

Did you know that there are some laws that may change how you decorate for Christmas? From lights to toys, rooftop Santas and more, some of your Christmas cheer may end up putting you on the naughty list.

December 1st, 2018

Posted In: Uncategorized

While Christmas lights may seem like a beacon of joy during the holidays, they tend to cause several disputes in neighborhoods. As a rule of thumb, the appropriate time to hang up the Christmas lights is the day after Thanksgiving and the best time to remove them is soon after the New Year. But can the law actually enforce what seems like common sense? The short answer is that it depends on the community.

If you are planning to set up over-the-top Christmas lights in your front yard, you can check to see if there are any Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that govern your neighborhood or complex. This will outline the uses and limitations on the property that are imposed by the Homeowners Association (HOA). These two documents will often contain provisions about what types of decorations are allowed, when you can put them up and when you must take them down.

For example, they might say that roof anchored displays are not allowed, or they may establish a time of day when all holiday music must stop. The HOA has the power to fine you for non-compliance so it is worth your time to review the community documents.

Each city has its own residential outdoor lighting ordinances you should review. However cities either have an exemption for seasonal holiday lighting or they simply do not aggressively enforce their lighting ordinances during the holidays. Instead, the city is more likely to take notice if your holiday display is creating an unreasonable amount of noise or if you are creating traffic problems in your neighborhood by the number of people driving by your home to admire your holiday cheer.

Last year, there was a legal battle over a famous ‘Arcadia Christmas House’ located in Phoenix. The house was extravagantly decorated by a man for more than three-decades until officials from the city addressed complaints in a meeting. The statements said that since December of 2014, the man’s neighbors had filed over a dozen inquiries and calls for service because of the lights. However, the City of Phoenix later clarified that the concerns and suggestions did not prevent him from displaying the usual holiday lights.

Other options include submitting your holiday decorating plants to your HOA for approval and talking to your immediate neighbors in advance to explain your decorating plans. This way, they can address any concerns ahead of time. However, It is always important to check with an attorney first if you have any legal questions about your Christmas decorations, especially if you are planning for crowds to come visit them.

November 26th, 2018

Posted In: Uncategorized

Attorney, Adam Buck spoke with ABC15 about the current legal issues surrounding the proposed changes to student loans.

August 2nd, 2017

Posted In: Uncategorized

Performing due diligence before buying in an HOA community

An English proverb says: “measure twice, cut once.” This is an old carpenter’s way of saying you should perform adequate due diligence before taking action. This advice aptly applies to individuals looking to buy a home in an HOA community. Homeowner associations have been established through cooperation between the local municipalities and the real estate developers. Prior to the advent of HOAs, towns or cities would assess and collect property taxes from each homeowner and in exchange they would take care of the streets, parks, trash collection etc. Homeowners would also be bound by the provisions of the city’s code that regulate landscaping and the condition of the property.

In the 1960s real estate developers began to develop HOA communities. Since then HOA communities have exploded across the nation. Currently, more than 68 million Americans live in HOA communities – which is 53% of all households in the nation! In these types of communities, the Developer creates a non-profit corporation to manage the community and to take over many of the duties that were traditionally performed by cities. Before selling any homes, the Developer records Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). By purchasing a home in the community a person automatically becomes a member of the non-profit corporation and is automatically bound by the CC&Rs. The day-to-day operations of the HOA are run by the HOA Board of Directors. The HOA Board is made up of volunteers from the community.

HOAs have been given great power by state legislatures. Essentially, the HOA steps into the shoes of the city in many respects. For example, the HOA Board has the authority to collect monthly or quarterly assessments (i.e. taxes) and to regulate, penalize and fine homeowners for violating the CC&Rs and the other rules and regulations of the community. Because of its inherent power, the HOA will have a big impact, good or bad, on a homeowner’s life. But when buying a home, many people are so busy inspecting and performing their due diligence on the home itself, they spend little to no time conducting any due diligence on the HOA that will govern their life and the use of their property as long as they live in the community.

A wise buyer would spend some time making sure the community is a good fit for them before purchasing the home. There are three categories of recommended due diligence: 1) Community documents; 2) Financials; and 3) Litigation.

Community Documents
Prior to close of escrow a buyer receives a large stack of documents from the HOA which includes copies of the CC&Rs, Rules and Regulations, and Bylaws. These are often very lengthy and are filled with “legalese” so you may need an attorney to help you understand what you are getting into. For example, these documents indicate whether or not you can have a boat or an RV at your home, a basketball hoop or a swing set. They can even restrict what types of plants, trees or rocks you can have in your yard. They may require you to paint your house every so often or they may prevent you or your guests from parking on the street. You should become very familiar with the all the rules, requirements and restrictions in the community to make sure they are compatible with your lifestyle. If you violate any of these provisions, or if you fail to pay the dues and assessments, the Association my fine you and put a lien on your home. You should talk to members of the community to find out how the HOA Board interprets and enforces the rules and regulations of the community.

Financials
You should also review the financial information you receive from the HOA prior to close of escrow to understand the financial condition of the Association. The Association collects dues and assessments from its members and must budget and use those funds to take care of the common areas of the community. If you buy the home, you will be a member of the non-profit corporation that manages the community and you will benefit or be punished by how financially solvent the HOA is. For example, if you are looking to buy a home in a community with lots of amenities such as a clubhouse, swimming pools, tennis courts and parks, you want to make sure that the HOA has enough money in reserve to be able to repair and replace all of these things when they eventually wear out or break down. If not, the HOA would have to make a special assessment to cover these large expenses and each homeowner would have to pay their pro rata share, which could be quite large. Some communities pay a professional to prepare a formal Reserve Study. You should ask if the community has one. A Reserve Study evaluates the amenities and common areas and then recommends how much money the community should have in reserve to make sure it is able to repair and replace them over time. By reviewing the Reserve Study you can determine if the community has adequate funds in reserve. And if the community does not have a formal reserve study that says something about the community as well. Make sure you are comfortable with the financial condition of the Association before you purchase the home.

Litigation
Finally, you should check the local court records to see how litigious the community is. However, not all lawsuits are bad. Sometimes an association must file a lawsuit to collected dues and assessments from a homeowner that is not paying his or her fair share of the community expenses. But if a community is overly litigious it can negatively impact the community and its members. For example, the more times the HOA is sued, the more it will pay for insurance. And the higher cost of insurance is then passed on to its members. Also, excessive litigation may indicate poor communication and dispute resolution skills within the community. Prolonged litigation can also cause significant division and discord within the community. All lawsuits are public records so you can access them for free. You can also ask questions of community members to better understand the dynamics in the community.

Buying a home in an HOA community is a big decision. People are often drawn to HOA communities because of the wonderful amenities they offer such as pools, tennis courts and parks. But they often fail to perform adequate due diligence to make sure that the personality and culture of the community fits their lifestyle. Prospective buyers can avoid a lot of stress, frustration and cost by simply taking the time to perform a little due diligence on the community before deciding to purchase the home.

June 21st, 2017

Posted In: Uncategorized

(Scottsdale, Arizona) Radix Law announced that two of its attorneys, partner Adam Buck and associate Amanda Salvione, have been selected as presenters for a seminar during the 2017 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

The three-day conference, to be held June 14 through June 16 at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, is an annual reunion of State Bar of Arizona Members and features dozens of seminars, meetings and special events on a wide variety of legal topics. The theme of this year’s convention is Our Bar – Serving and Protecting the Public.

On Thursday, June 15, Radix Law attorneys Buck and Salvione will be featured speakers during a seminar titled Advanced Issues in Land Use: Navigating the Dangers of Deed Restrictions in Residential and Commercial Development. 

The seminar is presented by Real Property Law Section, of which Salvione is a co-chair for the seminar and is on the Executive Council.

Specifically, Buck and Salvione will teach attendees about the recent changes in community association and deed restriction law, drafting considerations, hot issues in deed-restriction litigation and unexpected ways that deed restrictions can derail land use.

Buck is a Certified Real Estate Specialist with nearly two decades of transactional and litigation experience in Arizona and Nevada. As a partner with Radix Law, Buck focuses on laws pertaining to business, real estate, homeowners association (HOA), employment, and commercial litigation.

“It’s very exciting to collaborate with our peers and discuss issues we are passionate about,” said Buck. “We are honored to be asked to present at this seminar in Tucson with some of the top lawyers in the state.”

Amanda Salvione’s practice focuses on real estate, business formation and structuring and finance law.

“Adam and I are thrilled to represent Radix Law at the State Bar of Arizona Convention, and are looking forward to sharing what we’ve discovered through our work, but more so to learn from others and take that knowledge back to our clients and ultimately, our community,” said Salvione.

Formed in 2008, Radix Law attorneys serve companies, individuals and families throughout Arizona in business and corporate law and related areas, ranging from taxation and asset protection to bankruptcy and estate planning. The firm leads the Valley of the Sun in estate planning and trust administration law.

June 13th, 2017

Posted In: Uncategorized

Next Page »