Enforcing HOA and COA Rules: Tips for Property Managers
Although many community association residents may not admit it, a strong HOA/COA policy that is enforced fairly across the board within a development leads to a better quality of life for everyone in the development. Here are a few suggestions for property managers to enforce the association rules that are already on the books.
Monetary fines give teeth to the rules and regulations of an HOA. They are a very efficient tool in getting people to comply. Although a fine should be a part of the compliance process, it should not be the first step in the process.
Before fining someone for breaking the rules, an effective technique is to start with a simple warning letter. If you escalate in this way, you can continue to escalate the fine structure in a similar way to make sure that people understand that the punishments will be harsher as time goes on. You may also want to consider a higher scale of fines for repeat offenders.
Leveraging HOA Statements
In order for a fine to have maximum impact it should be included on member dues statements as well as in warning letters. Repeating the fine on a statement that the resident must address creates another opportunity for restitution and backs up the serious nature of the sanction.
One great method to make sure that the fine gets paid is to stipulate that payments to the HOA address the fine first before the dues payment. Because the dues payment must be paid, placing the fine in front of it further ensures compliance and deters the behavior that the fine is meant to stop.
Aligning Rules with Local Regulations
Your neighborhood regulations gain much more clout if they are based around the laws of your municipality. Staying in compliance with all EPA, HUD and fair housing regulations also insulates the HOA or COA from any successful retaliation from a disgruntled resident.
Have every new regulation reviewed by an attorney before it is voted on by your constituency.
What Is Proper Enforcement?
The rules that your HOA votes on should obviously be enforced across the board, and although this may go without saying, the objective implementation of rules is quite another thing. Also, there is a perception of subjectivity no matter how objective the process may be, and part of the challenge of the association management is to automate as much of the process as obviously as possible.
Invest in as much technology as you can so that the fine structure and enforcement for breaking the HOA rules is out of personal hands.
Although the enforcement of HOA rules will be slightly different for each HOA, following the tips above will get any community started in the right direction. Have trust in your process and make it fair so that your entire neighborhood can get behind it and support it even when it makes them individually uncomfortable.