It may come as little surprise that quite a few homeowner association boards fail miserably in rule enforcement, especially in self managed HOAs. Let’s face it, confrontation with neighbors is not something most people look forward to. So when certain members play fast and loose with the rules, these boards turn a blind eye or run for cover. If this failure to enforce goes long enough, a reform group often appears to run for election and make a change. Once elected, Big Questions arise like “How do we go about enforcing long unenforced rules?” and “How aggressive should we get?” Good questions.
All rules are not created equal. Some are much more important than others. The board should focus on those that degrade curb appeal, market values and livability. In the case of planned communities, for example, a homeowner’s failure to maintain his roofing, paint, fences and landscaping has a direct impact on the market values of neighboring properties. So, issues that impact curb appeal and market value should be a high priority.
Livability issues are important as well. Does the HOA have a problem with, say, uncontrolled pets or loud and rowdy residents? While the police are the answer to extreme behaviors, the HOA can control the less extreme through warnings, and if necessary, fines.
To get a handle on the scope of rule issues, the board should make a list of violations by type and address and then prioritize by blatancy. While all violations should be addressed, focus attention on the big ones with a goal of getting compliance or compromise on all within a reasonable period of time.
To establish the board’s position and intent, a written notification should be sent to all members. Here’s a suggested format which can be adapted to your use:
|Dear Members of Nottacare Condominium,The board of directors discussed Nottacare rules compliance at the last board meeting. In particular, there has been ongoing issues with parking, pets and architectural design issues. In years past, prior to the current board taking office, rule enforcement has been inconsistent. The board is charged with and given authority in the governing documents to enforce rules, regulations and policies for the benefit of all Nottacare members. These rules, regulations and policies are design to enhance the livability of Nottacare and help sustain all member home values.
To that end, please be advised that the board will begin regular and consistent enforcement of rules, regulations and policies effective (date). Written violation notices will be directed to the violator (or landlord if the violation was done by a renter), a description of violation, the corrective action required, the penalty for failure to comply and a right of appeal.
Deadlines for compliance are based on the type of violation. The deadline may be immediate (as in the case of illegal parking) or days (as in the case of correcting an Architectural violation). See a copy of the rules, regulations and policies attached for the specifics.
The board appreciates your understanding and attention to this matter. Our goal is to facilitate the best possible living conditions for all Nottacare residents by establishing reasonable standards. Your cooperation in this matter is appreciated. Please don’t hesitate to direct your written comments and questions to (email address) or (mail address). All feedback will be reviewed by and responded to by the board within 30 days. We also invite you to attend the next board meeting (time) on (date) at (location) to express your views on this communication.
Rules in homeowner associations should be few and necessary. When reviving rule enforcement, focus on the ones that truly make a positive impact on value and livability. Treat your members with respect and understanding. Be prepared for compromise if it’s in the best interest of the HOA. Rule on!