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What is Selective Enforcement in the HOA?

Each homeowners association is governed by a set of documents that details specific policies, procedures, rules, and expectations. These can vary from one association to the next depending on what the board and members have decided regarding their community. But whatever is agreed upon should be consistently enforced, and all homeowners should be held to the same standards.

Selective enforcement occurs when the association enforces specific rules for one homeowner, or a group of homeowners, but not the rest. Some members may get a violation notice for leaving their trashcans out too late, while others do not but have broken the same rule. This can cause members to feel as though they are being targeted or singled out.

It is the board’s job to ensure that rules and regulations are fairly and uniformly enforced. Some associations leave it up to members to report violations that they see, while others send board members or the community manager out to periodically scan the community for violations. In either case, there should be consistency in how this process is carried out.

How Can the HOA Prevent Selective Enforcement?

First and foremost, everyone should understand the association’s governing documents so they know what is and is not permissible. The board should provide these documents to every homeowner, and make them easily accessible via the association’s website or a digital file. Sending out regular reminders about some of the most common violations can help members maintain compliance.

  • Document any violations and related actions. Keep written records of any notices that are sent out and actions that are taken. There should be a paper trail showing that proper procedures were followed, and to verify that certain individuals were not being singled out. The board can review its files to identify potential problems.
  • Avoid exceptions. Making exceptions can quickly lead to trouble as members may feel that it is not fair one person got an exception and they did not. It can be difficult for board members to reprimand members they are good friends with, but they need to remain neutral and treat everyone equally.
  • Collaborate with a legal professional. The association’s legal team can review proposed rules and policies to verify that they are written in a clear manner and are fair and enforceable. They can also support the board in handling any complaints.
  • Work with an HOA management company. A community manager can help the association put a fair enforcement policy in place, then ensure that it is carried out correctly. The board may decide that the manager should be the one overseeing compliance and sending out violations, rather than leaving it up to members to report issues they see.

Members typically don’t break the rules on purpose. It is often an oversight, misunderstanding, or lack of understanding regarding community policies. Regular communication is essential to keep everyone informed and abreast of expectations. If members do have a complaint or feel that selective enforcement was used, have a process in place for handling these concerns. Contact Kuester today to learn more about how we can support your HOA in preventing selective enforcement and putting proper policies and procedures in place.

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Bryan Kuester

Bryan Kuester

Bryan is the CEO of Kuester Management Group. He has over 15 years of managing community associations throughout North and South Carolina.

His specialties include Community Association Management - maintenance, budgeting for operational and reserve funding, long-range planning, covenant enforcement, amenity management, onsite management, large scale management.