One of the downsides of being on the HOA board is having to issue violations for breaking association rules. Board members don’t like sending notices, and homeowners don’t like receiving them. It can be a stressful situation for everyone involved. However, enforcement and follow through are essential for running an effective HOA.
There are several ways that HOAs can be proactive in helping to curb the number of violations that occur. Remember that it will take time for these strategies to work, so stick with it and make adjustments as necessary.
Communication is probably one of the most critical aspects of reducing HOA violations. When homeowners receive a notice, the most common response is, “I didn’t know.” The governing documents can seem overwhelming to new homeowners, and they may not take the time to review everything they need to know. Ideally, every homeowner will have read the rules, but this isn’t always the case.
The HOA can help simplify this process by sending out friendly reminders about commonly violated rules, or those that apply to specific times of the year (such as using the community pool over the summer). This can be a good reminder for everyone – not just those who have broken the rules. It’s also a great idea to put documents online so they can be easily accessed and searched by members.
Also, ensure that members understand not only what the rules are, but why they are in place. If they know why certain expectations exist, it can make these rules easier to abide by. They’re less likely to be compliant if they think a rule is unnecessary. Encourage homeowners to ask questions about things they don’t understand so the board can provide clarification.
The board should also periodically review HOA rules to make sure they still make sense. If there are outdated policies and procedures, consider making revisions to make documents more relevant and concise. Some rules may also need to be rewritten for clarity. If it is written in the governing documents, it must be followed, so make sure what is there is still in the best interest of the community.
Along with clearly explaining expectations, make sure that homeowners understand what the penalties are should they break the rules. Even if they don’t agree with something, they may be more apt to comply if the know the consequences for being in violation. This shouldn’t be used as a threat tactic, however.
Consistently Enforce Rules
When rules are consistently enforced, it also helps homeowners to be more aware and can improve compliance. They realize that certain actions or behaviors are not tolerated. When enforcement is spotty, it’s hard to know whether rules are serious or not because they’re only upheld in some cases but not others. Take steps to follow through each and every time.
Partnering with a property management company such as Kuester can help HOAs to improve enforcement of rules and manage violation notices. Property managers can provide guidance on dealing with problems and improving communication and transparency with members.