Homeowners associations (HOAs) have rules and regulations for a multitude of reasons, including safety and protecting property values. These rules should be communicated clearly and frequently to ensure all residents are aware of them and understand their purpose.
There are many avenues that HOAs can use to remind residents of the community rules, such as message boards, emails, notices on mailboxes, and social media. When a violation by a resident occurs, it is important that the board handles the situation quickly and fairly. Using the following guidelines can help resolve HOA violations in a reasonable manner.
Start With a Friendly Warning
The first warning that a regulation has been violated should be in the form of a friendly reminder. It is entirely possible that the resident was unaware or forgot about the rule. The reminder should be stated positively but clearly and include a reasonable amount of time to remedy the situation. The goal is to be respectful and have a successful outcome.
Keep Emotions and Friendships to the Side
HOA boards are made up of residents, but when it comes to resolving disputes and violations, personal feelings must be kept out of the process. Every resident has a right to expect fair and equitable treatment with no special favors for friends and neighbors of board members.
Follow the HOA Enforcement Process
Every community has its own rules for enforcing HOA regulations, and they should be followed if a resident disregards the initial friendly warning they are given. Most communities have a system that includes two notices of a violation before a hearing with the HOA board must be held. If the violation was brought to light through a complaint by another resident, ask that the complaint be submitted in writing so that all pertinent information is documented.
Use Fines as a Last Resort
If a resident continues to practice behavior that violates regulations, the board can restrict their right to vote, remove their right to use the common areas of the community, and as a last resort, impose fines. Fines should only be used to deter residents from continuing to violate HOA rules and regulations. The amount of the fine should reflect the level of seriousness of the violation, and fines can escalate for repeated violations and ongoing noncompliance. In cases where a resident is refusing to pay the fines that have been levied, the HOA can initiate a claim in small claims court if necessary.
Many communities have a property management company, and they should be relied upon for regular inspections that check for compliance with HOA rules and regulations. In addition to ensuring the safety of residents and helping retain property values, regular inspections can help prevent violations from escalating.
A property management company is essentially a neutral third party that enforces the rules but has no authority to make them. This approach in combination with a fair and equitable process for handling HOA violations can help resolve problems with residents quickly and reasonably.
Annapolis HOA Lawyers at Oliveri & Larsen Provide Experienced Legal Counsel for HOA Matters
For experienced legal counsel regarding residents who violate HOA regulations, contact one of our Annapolis HOA lawyers at Oliveri & Larsen. We will help resolve the issue fairly and in a timely manner. Located in Annapolis, Maryland, we represent clients in Ocean City, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Calvert County, Harford County, Howard County, Queen Anne’s County, St. Mary’s County, Worcester County, Kent County, and the upper and lower Eastern Shores of Maryland. Call us at 410-295-3000 or complete our online form to schedule an initial consultation today.