Living in a homeowners’ association provides several benefits to homeowners, including lawn care services and access to various amenities. In exchange for these perks, members are expected to comply with the rules of the HOA.
Unfortunately, there are times when a homeowner violates these rules or makes a request that goes against by-laws. To avoid creating or exacerbating any disruption in the association, HOAs should enforce the rules fairly and responsibly.
Create a solid foundation
HOA governing documents, including by-laws, articles of incorporation, and rules and regulations all give HOA boards the ability to establish and enforce ordinances. It is up to the board to make sure these documents enable them to maintain the community.
If governing documents are weak, outdated or in violation of state laws, they can be more likely to spark conflicts and give rise to disputes among homeowners. As such, boards must regularly review these documents and make changes as needed.
Because every homeowner is subject to the same expectations and rules in an HOA, boards should be consistent when enforcing the rules. Handing out uneven penalties or showing preferential treatment can do more than spark anger in a community; it could lead to allegations of discrimination or abuse of power.
As such, boards would be wise to be consistent when it comes to addressing violations and complaints.
Tailor the response to the situation
Enforcing the rules consistently is crucial. However, that does not mean the board should respond the same way to every situation. Should a conflict arise, board members should assess the unique circumstances and parties involved to determine the best course of action.
In some cases, a direct response with a clear explanation of the HOA rules can resolve a dispute sufficiently. In other instances, issuing fines and other penalties may be necessary. Should these efforts prove to be ineffective, legal action can be appropriate.
While it is not necessarily a crime for a homeowner to violate the rules of their HOA, it can be highly disruptive and potentially put others in danger. Thus, boards must responsibly set and enforce the rules for the sake of the community.