FAIR AND EFFECTIVE HOA ENFORCEMENT
Published September 20, 2023
Homeowners Associations (HOAs) are the backbone for maintaining
harmony and the visual aesthetics of many residential communities. A
significant aspect of this role involves enforcing covenants and
conditions to ensure that every homeowner adheres to the agreed-upon
standards. But how should an HOA approach enforcement effectively
and fairly? Below, we outline some simple step-by-step process for
HOAs to consider:
1. Education First - Orientation
for New Members: Every new homeowner should receive a
comprehensive introduction to the community's covenants and
conditions. This can be done via a welcome packet, an orientation
meeting if you have a committee in place, or providing a set of
2. Observation & Documentation -
Community walk-throughs should routinely conduct regular inspections
to identify potential violations. Maintaining such records is just
as important. Hopefully, your association is using technology to
help document any violations with photos, dates, times, and a brief
description to build a clear record.
3. Open Communication - Once a
violation is noted, promptly inform the homeowner in writing and via
email of the violation and the CC&R they are violating. Describe the
violation, provide photographic evidence, and specify the required
4. Provide a Grace Period - Offer a
reasonable timeframe for homeowners to address and correct the
violation. This shows goodwill and understanding that sometimes
circumstances require time to resolve. Remember, all homeowners must
be treated equally, so we highly recommend having standard grace
periods for specific violations.
5. Impose Penalties - If a
homeowner fails to address the violation within the grace period,
impose a penalty per the HOA's by-laws. Ensure the penalties are
fair, consistent, and well-documented. Pro Tip: Consult with your
association attorney before imposing any penalties.
6. Alternative Dispute Resolution -
Consider offering mediation or other conflict resolution methods to
find amicable solutions without litigation.
7. Legal Action (as a last resort)
- If all efforts to resolve the violation amicably fail, consult the
HOA's legal counsel to determine the next steps. Litigation should
always be the last resort, given its cost, financially, and in terms
of community harmony.
8. Regularly Review Covenants and
Conditions - Periodically reassess the community's rules to ensure
they remain relevant, fair, and aligned with the community's
evolving needs and desires. Invite feedback from homeowners during
this process and ensure your association attorney is also evolved.
Enforcing covenants and conditions
is a delicate balance for HOAs. While it's crucial to maintain
community standards, it's equally vital to approach enforcement with
fairness, consistency, and open communication. By adhering to a
systematic process, HOAs can foster trust and promote a harmonious
living environment for all residents.