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The HOA Rule Game

The issue of rules in homeowner associations is one that can trigger a wide range of responses. While most HOAs require little rule enforcement, there are some that seem rule-driven or inhabited by I-eat-rules-for-lunch residents. This combination is a formula for trouble. That said, there are some recommended approaches to effective rules compliance that every HOA should consider. Jim Comin of CDC Management in Seattle has come up with some examples of Good vs. Bad when it comes to rules compliance:

Good: Please contact me to discuss this matter and find a way to reconcile this.

Bad: Please contact me immediately to avoid a $100 fine.

Good: I realize that you are a new homeowner and that you may not be aware of the rules. For your convenience, I have enclosed a copy.

Bad: I recognize that you are a new homeowner, but you received a copy of the rules when you closed the sale of your unit so you should have known that this is against the rules.

And here are some indicators that your HOA rules are too strict:

  • It’s easier to list all of the things that aren’t against the rules, rather than to list those things that are.
  • Your rules do allow for garage sales but only on the “Community Garage Sale Day” which is the 5th Saturday in every Leap Year.
  • Everyone at Acme Towing knows your first name.
  • The fine schedule is as follows: First Offense = $10 fine, Second Offense = $25 fine, Third Offense = 30 days in jail.
  • The HOA’s speed limit is exactly the same as your limit on the number of dogs per household.
  • A unit sale fails because the potential buyer has a goldfish.
  • Page 243 of your rules state that … well, you get the picture.
  • You have 43 rules related to boat moorage and your HOA is not on the water.
  • Instead of a “due process,” the HOA has a “don’t process.”

Okay, you get the gist. The rules in homeowner associations should be few and absolutely necessary. Tread respectfully when engaged in enforcement to gain cooperation and respect. A brutal approach only begets a brutal response.

Written by Richard Thompson for Copyright © 2020 Realty Times All Rights Reserved.