HOA Rules Enforcement as best when accomplished as efficiently as possible.
Most of us bristle at the thought of having too many rules to follow. At the same time, most of us recognize that having some basic rules in place is probably a good idea. We know that rules governing traffic are important for keeping us safe, and we understand that a “No Shirt, No Service” rule in a restaurant is vital for preserving sanitation and a sense of decorum.
In the same way, most individuals who live in an HOA-governed community know that having some rules is probably for the best. HOA boards codify their rules as Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, and these regulations are typically very basic principles that ensure the community is able to flourish, as peacefully and as prosperously as possible.
There will likely come a time, however, when your HOA board runs up against community members who are in violation of these important rules. This is never a particularly pleasant time in the life of the community, or the HOA board member. Knowing what methods can be used to remedy the problem, as efficiently as possible, is vital.
There are a few tools that HOA boards can use for rule enforcement, and the first one on the list should be a basic warning. Remember that, in many cases, these rule infractions will not be deliberate; among new community members, in particular, innocent mistakes are common. Issue a warning in writing, citing the specific section of the CC&R that the resident has violated. Do this discreetly, and in most cases the problem will be remedied without further incident.
Another option is to try fining the violator, which can sometimes be effective. Remember that a resident who doesn’t want to play by the rules is likely not going to be willing to pay a fine, either. As further fines are accumulated, HOA lawyers often have to get involved, making this a scenario that should be avoided save for as a last resort.
When things get truly difficult, a lien can be put in place—but this will almost surely signal a looming court battle.
A great way to avoid all of this is simply to ensure that the HOA rules enforcement are even-handed and fair in enforcing the same rules for everyone. Being moderate and patient, and treating all residents fairly, can significantly decrease the odds of the situation ending in ugliness.