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How to enforce HOA rules when homeowners are non-compliant

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | Homeowners' Associations

Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) help to protect everyone in a particular community. The community board that manages the HOA establishes certain standards for residents and their properties. They make decisions about the investment of community resources and the maintenance of shared spaces.

An HOA also sometimes has the unpleasant task of enforcing community standards. When individual residents violate HOA rules, the board may need to take immediate action. What does HOA rule enforcement typically entail?

Documentation of violations

Proving that a community member did something that violated HOA rules is crucial to enforcement efforts. Collecting evidence that someone has broken the rules can be significantly different from one case to the next. Proving that there was a violation of noise ordinances requires different evidence than claims related to obvious maintenance issues at an individual property. The HOA needs proof of the violation in case the resident tries to fight enforcement efforts.

A review to ensure consistency

Before an HOA board takes action against a property owner, it is necessary to review other recent enforcement actions. Typically, consistent rule enforcement is necessary for the community board to maintain its authority. The HOA cannot enforce a rule against one resident after ignoring identical violations by others. If the HOA board decides to enforce a rule that it previously did not, the community member facing penalties might be able to leverage that inconsistency as part of their response to the enforcement efforts.

Proper communication

Informing the homeowner of the infraction is often the last step that the HOA needs to take. In many cases, homeowners quickly repair property damages or cease infringing activities. They don’t want to risk fines or other enforcement efforts. If the homeowner does not make efforts to ensure compliance, then it may be necessary to engage in additional enforcement efforts.

Assessing fines or other penalties

The nature of the violation and the terms included in community standards determine what penalties an HOA can impose. In many cases, there might be financial penalties for rule violations. The HOA may send invoices detailing the costs for the violations of community standards. Other times, the HOA could correct the violation by sending its own team to maintain the yard or repair the property. They may then bill the homeowner for the costs incurred. Other enforcement efforts could include limiting someone’s access to community amenities or even moving to foreclose on the property in more extreme cases.

HOA rule enforcement can be very complicated, especially as it involves neighbors taking action against people they likely know. Having the right support during HOA rule enforcement efforts can take some of the stress and risk out of that process.