One of the main challenges in multi-unit properties is the enforcement of rules in a homeowners association (HOA). While not all tenants are disobedient by nature, violations do happen every now and then, and it’s the HOA Board of Directors’ (BOD) duty to address it. The best way to prevent these violations, however, is to ensure that everyone is aware of what they can and can’t do in the association.
That is why, in this article, we’ll share our association management tips on how to enforce HOA or condominium owners association (COA) rules and regulations. We will also share our advice on how to deal with violations within your association.
#1 Ensure the Rules are Accessible to All
Are you 100% certain that all of the occupants are well-informed when it comes to the rules? Your BOD is aware of it, but what about the rest of the residents? Your HOA or COA’s rules shouldn’t be a well-kept secret that only the board knows about – instead, it should be shared with everyone.
Ideally, homeowners should be aware of the rules before they move in, as this gives them the time to decide whether or not living in an HOA-governed area is worth it. Your rules and regulations should be accessible to residents, real estate agents, property management companies, and more.
Consider uploading it to your website so that anyone can download it at their own time. This also allows homeowners to refer to the rules at any time in case of confusion. You could also use social media to remind residents of the rules, particularly the ones that are often broken.
#2 Set the Standard Procedure
Your HOA’s Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) should outline how violations are dealt with. This prevents a member of the BOD from taking matters into their own hands whenever a resident breaks the bylaws. It also ensures that covenant violations are dealt with without favoritism. Whenever a resident violates the covenants, standard procedure should always be followed.
The standard procedure varies, but this is how violations are typically dealt with in HOAs:
- The HOA Board of Directors votes on whether or not the resident violated the rules.
- Then, a notice is sent to the resident to inform them of their violation. The notice should cover the ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘when’ of the violation.
- The resident is given time to resolve the matter. If they refuse or fail to remedy matters, the BOD can revoke their privileges, take legal action, etc.
#3 Collect Fines for Non-Compliance
If residents know that they’ll literally pay for their actions, it’s unlikely that they’ll break the rules. The BOD can levy a fine for covenant violations, provided that this is outlined in the governing documents. If the BOD collects a fine that isn’t found in the documents, its members could be in trouble.
Collect a fine to discourage multi-unit tenants from violating the covenants. For instance, if a resident doesn’t clean up after their pet, a fine should be levied to prevent it from ever happening again. Keep in mind that the BOD should inform the resident of the fine, and let them know when they should settle it.
While the BOD can collect a fine, it shouldn’t be unreasonable. Consider charging a not-so-painful amount for the first offense, and increasing it for succeeding offenses. Do consult a property management company to determine the correct amount so you don’t end up in court.
#4 Write a Warning Letter
You shouldn’t assume that your multi-unit tenants are aware when they’ve violated the covenants. There’s a good chance that they didn’t even know that they’ve broken the rules. Once the BOD decides that the resident truly did violate the covenants, it should issue a notice to inform them of their violation. This notice serves as a warning, and in most cases, it’s enough to encourage multi-unit tenants to start following the rules and regulations.
If the violation is something that can be dealt with without the involvement of the HOA, the homeowner should be allowed to do so. For example, if the violation involves excessive noise, the homeowner should be allowed to deal with it on their own. However, if the homeowner doesn’t address it and commits the offense a second time, the BOD can step in.
#5 Suspend HOA Membership Rights
As a member of the association, a homeowner is provided with privileges. For instance, homeowners can access the HOA or COA’s amenities like the pool and park – something that non-residents cannot do. Homeowners are also given the right to vote during HOA elections, and the right to run as a member of the board.
However, if a homeowner breaks the covenants, these privileges can be taken away. Keep in mind that revoking certain privileges can get your BOD in legal trouble, so make sure to speak to an attorney.
#6 Consider Legal Action
If you’re dealing with a stubborn homeowner that doesn’t want to follow the rules, the board should consider legal action. This applies to matters where the BOD has done everything in its power to deal with the situation, but the resident still does not cooperate.
Again, be sure to read state law or consult a lawyer, as some prefer the HOA to settle matters out of court. You should also consider hiring an association management company that’s familiar with federal as well as state laws regarding HOA lawsuits.
#7 Do Not Practice Selective Enforcement
The easiest way to get in legal trouble is by being biased when it comes to the rules and regulations. The BOD is expected to enforce the rules to all of the residents – no exceptions. It doesn’t matter if the violator is the BOD’s relative – the rules are meant to be enforced to all of the association members. Hence, your BOD should never give a “free pass” to someone simply because they’re friends.
Enforcing rules in a multi-unit building can be challenging. If you’re struggling to enforce the rules and regulations in your South Florida multi-family property, it’s time to partner with a property management company. At Luxury Property Care, you can rest assured that expert property managers will handle all tenant-related matters, and make sure that your tenants know what they can and can’t do in the association.
For more information, call us at (561) 944 – 2992 or contact us online. We will start with a free assessment of your property, and then create a property management strategy that is tailored to your needs.