If you are a HOA board member, you may find yourself reluctant to enforce the rules of your community. After all, no one enjoys being the “bad guy” or the enforcer. Yet, if you don’t enforce the rules, your owners are not being given the protection they expected when they bought a home in your community. Realistically, it’s your job to enforce the rules. Here are some tips to make enforcement more automatic.
1. Enforce Rules Proactively
When you learn of a potential rule violation, be proactive to determine if there is a problem. Waiting is not going to make the issue better. Proactively addressing issues before they have a chance to fester will improve your ability to enforce the rules.
2. Give Reasonable Deadlines
If someone is not complying to a rule, be reasonable in what you request. It’s not reasonable to expect an immediate change in the paint color of a house, for instance. If someone is in violation, offer a deadline they can comply with without undue stress. Also, be willing to provide friendly warnings before you jump to a fine or other consequence. Often your homeowners may be in violation without realizing it, especially for small issues, such as when to set out garbage cans, which can be easily overlooked when reading HOA guidelines.
3. Consider Changing Rules
From time to time, take a look at your rules. Are there any that are no longer applicable to your community members, or any that seem outdated? Consider if changes are warranted. Also, consider whether some rules should allow for owners to be grand-fathered in if they would have been in violation at the time the rule went into effect (i.e., they owned a dog when the no-pet policy was adopted).
4. Focus on Consistency
It’s easy to overlook a rule when you don’t feel like being the enforcer, but remember, you have a duty to uphold the community’s guidelines. Also, if some rules are allowed to slide, but others are enforced tenaciously, your homeowners will be confused and frustrated. Be clear on your rules and consistent with your enforcement of them.
Are you looking for additional help with enforcing the rules of your HOA? Contact the experienced team of homeowner association lawyers at Klein, Daday, Aretos & O’Donoghue for assistance.