The foundation of a homeowners association (HOA) is its governing documents. While not everyone may agree with every rule, they typically appreciate the overall environment it creates in protecting their property value and allowing them to enjoy the neighborhood. However, from time to time disagreements arise about enforcement of said rules and what constitutes a violation. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page and rules are being fairly and consistently enforced is key to minimizing problems.
One of the most common responses to violation notices is, “I didn’t know.” Members may not realize how loud their music was, or that their trashcan must be brought in by a certain time. The board can help curb problems by sending out regular reminders in the newsletter, via email, or during meetings regarding basic rules or those that are broken most often.
Don’t just tell members that they’re in violation because “that’s the rule.” Make sure they understand why certain policies are place and how it benefits the entire community. A little bit of education can go a long way in reducing problems. Once homeowners understand the reasoning – and that the rule exists – they’re more likely to comply.
If there are certain rules that consistently seem to be an issue, the board should take a closer look at the root of the problem. Why are there so many violations? Is the rule subject to interpretation? It is unrealistic given how the community has evolved since it was written? Rules can be changed, so don’t get too hung up on “that’s the way it’s always been done.” Updating documents to something that makes sense, still serves its intended purpose, and makes enforcement easier can be beneficial.
Have Open Discussions.
Before the board jumps right to fines or other consequences, start with a friendly warning letter, and give members the chance to ask questions. Set up a time to talk through the problem and potential solutions if they need more clarification. Be willing to work with them before taking things to the next level or getting the legal team involved.
Establish Clear Processes.
Once it has been determined that rules are fair and enforceable, set up a process for how this will occur. Let homeowners know what each step is if a violation is identified, and what the expectations and consequences are. Make sure that the board is consistent in following these policies so no one feels singled out or attacked; everyone is held to the same expectations and enforcement is carried out in the same way each time.
When the board and homeowners work together, they can reduce disagreements and create a community for everyone to enjoy. Partnering with a property management company like Kuester can help the board improve communication with members and ensure consistent rules enforcement. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support the day-to-day operations of your HOA and become a trusted resource for the board.