A homeowner’s association (HOA) helps protect the culture of a neighborhood and also local property values. The HOA can create and enforce rules about lawn and property maintenance, as well as many other choices homeowners make that affect their communities.
For example, the HOA may not allow people to park vehicles on the lawn or to leave their trash bins out for more than one night. For an HOA to be effective, it needs to retain its authority to enforce the terms set for community homeowners. The selective enforcement of HOA rules could potentially prevent the HOA from using its authority effectively in the future.
Why selective enforcement is problematic
Historically, having rules in place that communities or organizations only enforce against certain groups has led to systemic discrimination. Such situations can also lead to abuses of power. As such, the ability of an authority figure, like an HOA board, to enforce rules depends on their consistency.
If the HOA board knows that there’s only one parent in the three-child family with the unkempt lawn, there may temptation to let the unruly outdoor spaces slide. Enforcement actions may seem unfair, but failing to act will potentially affect everyone in the community by reducing the board’s authority. Ignoring infractions by one homeowner but then attempting to enforce the same rule against another could lead to claims of discrimination and possibly even litigation.
HOAs that hope to preserve the characteristics of a community will need to actively enforce all rules against all residents equally. Understanding the mistakes that can affect an HOA’s authority will help those who serve on HOA boards make the right choices on behalf of the community.