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Enforcing HOA rules when a homeowner isn’t maintaining a property

On Behalf of | Oct 15, 2020 | HOA Law |

Homeowners associations (HOAs) exist for a reason. Specifically, their primary purpose is to regulate the behaviors of homeowners and to ensure that all the properties under their jurisdiction meet certain standards.

The rules that HOAs enact can range from limitations on the colors of siding for a house to requirements for lawn maintenance. Whether someone leaves their trash bins out of the curb for three days every week or has more animals than your HOA permits, you may have to take steps to enforce the HOA rules put in place to protect the property owners within the community and the value of their property.

Enforcement usually starts with formal notice of an infraction

The first step in enforcing the rules is letting someone know that they have violated them. In some cases, homeowners may not realize that their aversion to mowing their lawn or their frequent, loud pool parties violate the local HOA rules.

Sending them a letter advising them of exactly what rule you believe they violated and explaining how they violated the rule can sometimes get people to bring their property into compliance. If they do not, the letter advising them of the infraction should also advise them of the potential consequences.

Assess and collect fees as necessary

Just the fact that the rules forbid specific behavior or that their actions have inconvenienced the neighbors may not be enough to get inconsiderate people to change their behavior. Thankfully, financial motives work even on the most selfish people.

If someone knows that they will have to pay money because of rule-breaking, they’ll be less likely to do so in the future. If they won’t pay or continue with the problematic behavior, suspension of privileges, like access to the pool or even placing a lien against the home in question, may become necessary.

Don’t wait until things become stressful for others

All too often, the people who run an HOA want to do their best to be good neighbors, which might mean giving someone in violation of the rules the benefit of the doubt.

It’s one thing not to issue a citation when you know that your neighbor is in the hospital after a car accident. It’s another thing to turn a blind eye to several weeks of unmowed lawn or the delivery of vinyl siding that is a clear violation of HOA regulations.

If you pick and choose when and how you enforce the rules, homeowners may be able to claim unfair or discriminatory enforcement. Applying all rules universally and taking action as soon as you learn about a compliance issue can go a long way toward preventing other homeowners from thinking they can get away with the same or worse behavior.