Start Enforcing Your HOA's Rules

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If your HOA board has been slack in enforcing its rules, here’s how to get back on track…or change direction completely.

Forget something? That HOA rule buried deep in your Rules and Regulations that you’ve been remiss in enforcing for the past few years. The one about homeowners not parking in the general parking area. Or perhaps it’s the one that requires a homeowner to be with their guests at the pool at all times.

As the board for your HOA, it’s your duty to run a fiscally responsible HOA, maintain common areas and enforce the rules of your community. The rules help maintain the character of your neighborhood (which can help maintain the value of its homes) and to carry out the wishes of your collective residents. And these wishes are typically represented in your HOA’s rules.

So whether a resident has brought an unenforced rule to your attention or your HOA board has new members who noticed the oversight, it’s time to start enforcing all rules equally. The good news is that even if you haven’t enforced a rule in a while, you can start again now. Here’s how.

  1. Review all your rules. We all need a refresher course once in a while, so now is the perfect time to review all the rules for your HOA to see if any others have fallen to the wayside as well.
  2. Admit the mistake. Communicate with homeowners that a rule hasn’t been enforced properly. Explain the current rule and provide examples of what is and isn’t allowed.
  3. Request feedback. Homeowners may have questions about the rule, especially if it requires them to make significant changes. Invite them to a board meeting to discuss the rule and their concerns. 
  4.  Give homeowners time. Your homeowners aren’t used to complying with this rule (and may have even forgotten it was a rule), so give them some time before you begin enforcing it again. Let them know the exact date the board will require the rule to be followed, and reiterate the consequences of not following a rule.
  5. Enforce the old rule. Once the date comes, be sure to enforce the rule just as you would any other rule. The important thing is to be consistent—both with you how enforce the rule and with whom you enforce it with.

So what if the majority of your HOA agrees that the rule should be altered or removed altogether? As a board, you have the ability to change your HOA’s rules to ensure they reflect the needs and desires of its residents. If the change will take away a privilege that some homeowners currently enjoy (say, owning a pet) then consider grandfathering those rules so current homeowners do not lose the benefit.

This article contains general information. Individual situations are unique.

Source: HOALeader.com, California Condo & HOA Laws
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