Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) in New York and elsewhere exist to maintain home values, make amenities available that enhance the living situation and must establish policies that apply to all of the properties in the association. When a homeowner doesn’t follow this, the Board should act. Read on to learn about helpful tips to enforce HOA rules.
1. Act Quickly: Once you’re aware of a violation, you should act quickly. For example, instead of waiting for an owner to complete construction on a project that breaks HOA rules, you should nip this in the bud. You would lessen the amount of time that the property is in violation and could also possibly save the homeowner money as well.
2. Deliver a Written Warning: This is a good beginning course of action. The warning will include the specific details of the incident. In many cases, this is enough to dissuade many homeowners from breaking any further rules.
3. Levy Monetary Penalties and/or Take Away Privileges: Breaking the rules should bring penalties and hitting a homeowner in the pocketbook with fines is something that can help to discourage rule-breaking. But the HOA must ensure that they don’t impose an unreasonable amount and must strive to strike a balance between the offense and trying to make a major difference in behavior. While a homeowner may resent being hit with a fine, the longer the fines remain unpaid, the more penalties they incur; the HOA may have to take legal action. Because amenities like clubhouses, terraces, and other perks are part of HOA living, another alternative is to suspend the violator’s privileges.
4. Place Liens on the Property: If there is a serious rule violation, the HOA can place a lien on the homeowner’s property. However, placing the lien doesn’t necessarily equal compensation. A lawsuit could ensue. Also, if the homeowner chooses to sell their property, the new owner may need to pay the lien settlement as part of the purchase.
5. Use a Standard Procedure/Don’t Engage in Selective Enforcement: While enforcing rules can sometimes be difficult, you can make it easier to follow through by incorporating a standard procedure. That way when a violation comes up, you know exactly how to handle it and are less likely to deviate from the practice.
You may feel compelled to deal with an HOA rule violation with leniency if you know the reason why an individual committed the violation. However, this is not a good approach because inconsistent rule enforcement may lead to allegations of discrimination even if this was not the intent.
Contact an HOA Attorney about Rule Enforcement
It’s critical for HOAs boards to set out rules and to enforce discipline when owners break them. The governing documents should contain specific instructions for dealing with violations. If they don’t, you will want to correct this. This is where an experienced attorney can assist you. Fortunately, the lawyers at MOWK Law are well-versed in this area and will work hard to come up with viable solutions for your rule enforcement issues. Contact us today for further information.