HOA life tends to go pretty smoothly when everyone’s obeying the rules—but of course, that’s not always what happens. In the life of every community there will be broken rules and violations—sometimes because owners simply don’t care about or agree with the rules, but often because there is some miscommunication about what the rules actually are. Sometimes it is required of the HOA Management Company to utilize the HOA Rules Enforcement process, which is always specific for each community.
It is vital for your Board to enforce rules, and to do so consistently and fairly, but also as patiently and as gently as possible. Some basic principles for enforcing the rules include:
- Be proactive in communicating the rules, and in being clear about what the expectations are. Many community leaders want to jump straight to violation notices, but as we remind people all the time, this is not the most productive approach! Emphasize honest and transparent communication about what the regulations—and penalties—are, and make sure all homeowners are on the same page.
- Should you encounter a violation, even after your efforts to communicate clearly, the next step is to offer a friendly warning. In many cases, the violation is an innocent mistake—a homeowner who simply didn’t realize how bright his Christmas lights are, how loud her stereo was, etc.
- From there, issuing a fine can sometimes be useful—but often it isn’t; homeowners who don’t care about the rules likely don’t care about paying fines, either.
- An alternative is to bar homeowners from using community amenities, until they pay their fines and resolve their violations.
- A lien can also be used, but if this is the road your Association chooses to take, know that it’s probably going to get ugly; in fact, this will almost surely be the precursor to a court case.
Hopefully, through working on communication and conflict resolution strategies, your HOA can ensure that these nasty scenarios happen relatively infrequently. With any questions about this, please contact the Kuester team today!