Every HOA is run by a series of governing documents that outline rules and regulations for the community. However, the specifics will vary between associations. Rules that are in place for one development are not necessarily the same as those for the one down the street, across town, or in a different state. HOAs have the flexibility to create rules that align with their community’s needs and interests. But that does not mean that changes should be made without careful thought and consideration.
Rules are made for a reason. Before attempting to overhaul a rule that some homeowners may object to, consider why that rule is in place to begin with. Determine what purpose it serves and what issues it helps to protect against. There may be cases where a guideline is outdated or irrelevant and should be updated or removed, but in other instances, it should remain. Do your due diligence and thoroughly research issues first before proposing changes.
Make sure changes are reasonable and enforceable. The HOA’s governing documents apply to all homeowners. Any rule changes should be within the best interest of the entire community, not just a few individuals or groups. Plus, these regulations must be fair and enforceable without violating any local, state, or federal laws. For instance, putting age restrictions on pool use is typically a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Make sure all rule changes are legal.
Provide notice to members. Some states require that members be given ample notice of any proposed rule changes so that they have the opportunity to review them and provide feedback. Other states do not have these guidelines in place. Regardless, the HOA should be open and transparent in order to create more buy-in from homeowners. Take feedback into consideration to improve or clarify regulations and make them more effective.
Ensure rules are clear and easily understood. Avoid using confusing terminology or vague statements. Rules should not be ambiguous or leave room for interpretation because that can cause a lot of issues when it comes to enforcement. This is another reason allowing time for homeowner input is important—it can bring to light issues the board may not have considered.
Be consistent with implementation. Once a rule change has been made, provide plenty of notice to members regarding new policies and expectations. It’s okay to give a violation warning at first, but make sure that the new rule is consistently and uniformly enforced. Everyone should be held to the same standards. Sending out violations in some instances but not others will cause confusion and pushback from members and can lead to legal issues.
Partnering with a property management company like Kuester can help HOAs ensure that their associations are being run fairly and effectively. Property managers can provide guidance with evaluating governing documents, enforcing policies, communicating with members, and much more. Contact Kuester today for more information.