Arizona Homeowners Bill of Rights, Proposition 201 (2008)
|Voting on Property|
|Not on ballot|
|Arizona Homeowners Bill of Rights|
Specifically, the measure called for:
- A 10-year warranty on a new home's materials and workmanship;
- Extending the statute of limitations for bringing a court action to 10 years from eight;
- Giving an aggrieved homeowner the right to choose among three contractors with complaint-free records to fix any repairs that might be needed in the home;
- Rewriting the rules on attorney fees; homeowners could sue without worry of being held responsible for builders' attorney costs.
Taxpayer's perspective from NTU
Proposition 201 is a union-backed measure to impose new requirements on home warranties, with the hope of creating more union jobs. Opponents believe the measure would open the door to costly litigation, as well as higher prices for home building and repair.
"This is an attempt to put some balance in the picture," said Richard McCracken, attorney for the measure's sponsor, the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association, Local Union 359.
- Prop. 201 would guarantee a 10 year warranty on new homes
- The measure would make homebuilders correct construction defects or compensate the homeowner
- Would guarantee that homeowners can participate in choosing contractors to do repair work
- Would give buyers the right to cancel within 100 days and get back most of their deposits
The Home Builders Association of Central Arizona formed an opposition committee, on the grounds that the proposal will lead to an unnecessary increase in litigation and that the sole purpose is to increase employment opportunities for union members. 
Arizonans Against Lawsuit Abuse asserted that the measure would encourage frivolous lawsuits by allowing homeowners sue without fear of having to pay a builder’s legal fees if they lose.
- Prop. 201 would prohibit two parties from agreeing to resolve their disputes without going to court and hiring attorneys.
- Prop 201 would forbid the defendants from recovering any attorney's fees, even if the case was frivolous or if they win.
- Prop. 201 would allow prospective buyers to file lawsuits. They will not even have to own the home to file a lawsuit.
- Prop 201 assured that all disputes, either large or small, go to court, raising costs for everyone.
Pathway to the Ballot
On August 9, the Arizona Republic reported that the initiative would be on the ballot despite not having enough signatures to automatically qualify. If estimates based on a random sampling of the petition signatures exceed 105 percent of the number needed to qualify for the ballot, then the measure automatically qualifies. Estimates that fall between 95 and 105 percent are supposed to be validated by each county; however, several county records report that they would be unable to do so by the deadline. A 1983 Supreme Court decision ruled that measures which could not be validated in a timely manner must be placed on the ballot. 
On July 23, the Homebuilders Association filed a lawsuit seeking to keep Proposition 201 off the ballot on the grounds that the ballot title for the proposition is "rife with errors and intentionally misleading."
Late on August 13, Judge Sam Myers acknowledged that at least one portion of Proposition 201 was improperly drafted. And that error was repeated in the copies of the measure that were attached to the petitions circulated to get the signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.
But Myers said state law requires only that initiative petitions be in "substantial compliance" with legal requirements.
Potentially more significant, Myers said that Lisa Hauser, an attorney representing the homebuilders, presented no evidence that any of the circulators were misled.
On August 12, Lisa Hauser, an attorney for homebuilders, told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sam Myers that the initiative does not comply with legal requirements. She said while some are technical, like the lack of a formal title, others are substantive.
Hauser noted in particular the new language being proposed by the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, which is financing Proposition 201, is not in capital letters. Instead, she said, it is in lowercase — a typographical technique generally reserved for parts of state law that are not proposed for change.
She also said the legally required summary prepared by backers improperly ignores the fact that one provision of the initiative could affect commercial construction.
Andrew Kahn, representing the union, conceded making a "typographical error" in the text of the initiative, which, by law, must be attached to every petition seeking to put a measure on the ballot. But he told Myers that signers were not misled.
- Arizona Initiative and Referendum Law
- Campaign finance requirements for Arizona ballot measures
- Arizona signature requirements
- Petition drive deadlines in 2008
- 2008 ballot measures
- Arizona 2008 ballot measures
- 2008 Arizona Election Results
- Ballot proposition guide for Prop. 201 - English
- ballot proposition guide for Prop. 201 - Spanish
- Information on this initiative and other Arizona initiatives from the Secretary of State
- Video introduction to Proposition 201, prepared by the Arizona Secretary of State.
- Arizona Republic's Guide to Proposition 201
- National Conference of State Legislatures Ballot Measures Database
- Video of arguments for Prop 201, from a forum sponsored by the Arizona Secretary of State.
- Yes on Proposition 201, an editorial column published in the Tucson Citizen by Rebekah Friend
- Video of arguments against Proposition 201, from a forum.
- Arizonans Against Lawsuit Abuse
- Campaign video against Prop 201
- Arizona Republic, "Buyers initiative inches on", June 30, 2008
- Arizona Elections Division, 2008 Election Results
- Union proposes ballot measure boosting homebuyers' rights, KVOA Network, Dec. 19, 2007
- Push for consumer rights on rise, Arizona Republic, Dec. 20, 2007
- Arizona Homeowners’ Bill of Rights Qualifies for Ballot, AFL-CIO Now blog, July 1, 2007
- Arizona Republic, "Real-estate initiatives OK'd for ballot", August 9, 2008
- Arizona Capitol Times, "Homebuilders group files suit to block initiative", July 23, 2008