HOA Enforcement: Why Consistency is Important
Consistent and equitable enforcement of a Community’s governing documents, including the CC&Rs, is critical in creating a balanced, successful Association.
The first step in achieving HOA enforcement consistency is for each homeowner, Board member, and Community Manager to read and thoroughly understand the Community’s CC&Rs and Design Guidelines. Governing documents may also include specific requirements or restrictions for each unit/lot, and members should be aware of all conditions. One of the many reasons why this step is so important is because each Community can be very different from a governing document standpoint, which includes HOA Backyard Rules. For example, you cannot assume that since the previous Community you resided in allowed a 12-foot tall playground structure in the backyard that, in turn, your new Community allows the same.
The second step to consistent HOA enforcement is scheduling regular compliance inspections per the Association’s Governing Documents. Regularly occurring inspections will help ensure that items that are not in compliance will be identified and addressed in a timely manner. It is also essential that an appropriate HOA Fine Policy be established and approved by the Board of Directors. A Board-approved Fine Policy gives the guidance needed to help ensure that all residents are following the Community’s rules, and the consequences of non-compliance are reasonable.
Lastly, the definition of the word consistent (i.e., constantly adhering to the same principles, course, form, etc.) implies, consistent enforcement means adhering to the governing documents in each case and treating each non-compliant issue in the same manner according to the Board approved Fine Policy. A Community Manager should not subjectively ignore a clear, defined violation one week and then choose to address it later. This same concept applies to the Community’s Board of Directors, as they need to support the consistent application of the governing documents by the Community Manager and stay objective on compliance issues even when it may involve a friend or neighbor.
By consistently enforcing the CC&Rs, Design Guidelines, and all other applicable governing documents, the Community Manager and Board of Directors will build understanding and trust with the Community’s homeowners, which then creates the foundation for a successful, well-run Association.