HOA Violations Enforcement

As an homeowners association board member, you’re familiar with the rules and regulations outlined in your association bylaws. Yet, you’re not exactly sure what type of authority you and the rest of the HOA board have when it comes to enforcing those regulations.

While maintaining an up-to-date knowledge of the rules and regulations set forth by the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R for short), it’s equally important to understand the consequences of violations.

So, how do you know what consequences are appropriate for each violation?

Check the Bylaws

The association bylaws and/or CC&Rs will typically provide board members with reasonable enforcement policies for various violations. While some violations will justify a more severe consequence over others, it’s important to treat all violations with the uniform enforcement. If you’re unsure of how to handle violations within your association, consider contacting a professional management company such as Elite Management Services. EMS offers multiple, unique services including violation enforcement.

However, your bylaws may outline certain actions the HOA board should take in response to violations. Some examples of how the association board may react are:

  1. Fines levied on the individual owner for breaking a rule or regulation (i.e, painting the home exterior with an unapproved color). Fines can be imposed singularly or by the day until the violation is corrected.
  2. Revoke the use of community common areas, such as the pool or fitness center, until the violation has been corrected.
  3. Take direct action against the property owner. For example, removing an unapproved fence.
  4. Suit the homeowner should they continue to disregard their violation notices. This could be in small claims court to avoid the high legal fees or by more severe methods if the violation is especially significant.
  5. Charge the homeowner for any additional costs (on top of the original fine) associated with the violation or actions taken by the board, such as those generated by removing the fence or fees for taking legal action.
  6. Place a lien on the homeowners property until all debts to the association are paid.

The aforementioned HOA board reactions range in severity and some take place at different stages of the violation. For instance, a board can start with levying a fine and then progress to suing the owner or placing a lien on the property if the fines continue to go unpaid.

Declare a Violation

Typically, a board shouldn’t impose a fine on a property owner for violating the CC&Rs without giving them proper notice explaining the violation. Communication is key to resolving violations within the community – in other words, the board won’t receive payment unless the homeowner is aware that they need to do so. In most circumstances, a simple letter outlining the violation and the consequences for the violation will suffice. However, contacting EMS to handle bylaw violations could prevent any legal backfire should the association not handle the situation properly. Elite Management Services is familiar with the procedures of enforcing a violation and can do so within the parameters outlined in the association bylaws.

Hold a Hearing

An association should hold a violation hearing to establish the legitimacy of the violation and hear the homeowner’s reason for making the violation. A hearing should follow shortly after the homeowner was notified about their violation. When issuing the initial violation, the HOA board can establish a date and time to hold the hearing, making sure to give the homeowner enough notice. Should the homeowner not show up or an agreement cannot be made during the hearing, the association can consider taking the offender to small claims court.

Take Leniency

Some associations implement a policy in which homeowners who make their first violation receive a warning. This first-offender policy is often an effective way to enforce violations without making the situation out to be a big ordeal. Should the violation continue to go unaddressed, the HOA board can then impose a legitimate consequence, such as issuing a fine.

Ensure Legitimacy

When issuing a homeowner a citation for a violation, it is absolutely imperative to make sure that a violation actually occurred. The HOA board may not (and should not) fine a homeowner for breaking a rule that never existed in the first place. That’s why it’s crucial for board members to be familiar with the CC&Rs of their association, as well as any amendments. Additionally, if the rule is has arbitrary wording, then it might be wise to correct the regulation before taking action against the homeowner who made the violation to avoid legal repercussions. If the rule is clear and the homeowner clearly broke said rule, then the board can enforce the violation.

When it comes to violations, there is often a lot of legality involved. To avoid being on the wrong end of a legal suit, your association can hire EMS to enforce any violations. Call today to request a proposal.