Best Practices for Handling Community Association Violations

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Enforcing community association violations can be stressful for board members and HOA employees, but remaining consistent with how you handle violations and adhering to your community’s CC&Rs can help make the process smoother. 

Here are a few best practices for community association violations:

6 Best Practices for Handling Community Association Violations

Have your CC&Rs available to members and make sure they’re clear:

Many homeowners commit community association violations simply because they don’t realize they’ve made an infraction. While this might seem like a no-brainer, owners should know what to expect when they commit a violation and what actions are worthy of an infraction. For this to happen, your CC&Rs must be easily available to your members. The CC&Rs should be kept somewhere that all members can access. This is typically done via an online member portal. Your CC&Rs should also be clearly written, so owners and members understand what constitutes a violation. 

Establish a process:

Your association should have a written procedure for managing violations. This helps keep your process for handling violations consistent regardless of who commits the violation and who is trying to resolve it. Before you establish a process, check your state regulations. Some states have guidelines for how to handle violations. If your state doesn’t, it’s up to your HOA to design its own process. If your association has an attorney, you may also wish to consult them before establishing and implementing a process. 

Issue a warning letter:

Most associations send the homeowner a warning letter when they commit their first violation, however, some associations have a face-to-face conversation or phone call with the owner to discuss the issue. Whether you choose a letter or conversation, you should document that a warning has been issued. 

If you choose to speak to the owner in-person, follow up the discussion with a letter for documentation purposes. The letter should include information about the rule that was broken, the nature of the violation, and what will happen if the rule is broken again. 

First and second notice of violation:

If the owner continues to violate the rule, they will likely be issued a first and second violation notice. Each violation letter must give the owner enough information to adequately respond to the violation. Letters should also include a date by which the owner needs to rectify the situation. If your association issues a second notice of violation, it may also choose to fine the resident for every day the offense remains unremedied. 

Suspension of rights and privileges:

If the owner does not respond to a first or second notice of violation, most associations will then suspend their rights and privileges. 

Placing a lien on the home or other legal action:

If, after the above actions, the owner still does not correct the violation or continues to commit it, some HOAs place a lien on the homeowner’s property. Doing so, however, often leads to legal action or lawsuits, and it also doesn’t guarantee the association will get paid.

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