There’s a fine line between enforcement of rules and fostering community bonds. Often homeowners will perceive Board Members as being too harsh and unruly when enforcement is too strict or communication is poor. Boards may sometimes become exhausted with having to deal with owners breaking rules repeatedly. When problems arise, and one particular rule/regulation is consistently broken, it may be time to revisit the governing documents for a possible revision. It may also be time to reconsider how the Board is communicating with homeowners or how information is being made available as a resource to them. Here we’ve outlined eight ways to help owners follow the HOA rules:
1. Ensure Communication is Effective and Accurate
If homeowners are not made aware of the rules and expectations, they will have a harder time following them. Regular communication, both electronically and by snail mail, can be an easy and effective way to communicate with the community. Posting notices and perhaps sending out a newsletter is another way to keep owners informed.
2. Make Resources Easily Available
When homeowners can easily access their association’s governing documents, as well as other helpful community resources, they will be much more likely to reference them when questions arise. If community resources/documents are not readily and easily available to owners, they are more likely to either become frustrated and/or become noncompliant.
3. Simplify Rules
Complex rules create room for controversy and might be harder for the community to follow. Create rules that are clear, concise, and free of ambiguity or too much complexity.
4. Maintain Consistent Rules
Changes to rules should be made slowly and communicated clearly to owners. If rules change too quickly, it is much more likely for owners to have a difficult time following along.
5. Improve Enforcement of Community Rules
Consistently enforcing rules is the best way to set clear expectations for homeowners and create an environment of fairness. If boards become lax with enforcement, it might take some time to get back on track and some push-back from owners should be expected. After a time, owners will have a clear picture of what is expected, and this level of enforcement should be maintained consistently. Board members should also keep their homes compliant and set clear examples for neighbors.
6. Remain Impartial when Enforcing Rules
Treat all owners the same, including other board members, and overall compliance with rules will improve. Treating individual owners unfairly fosters an environment of frustration and sets the HOA up for conflict.
7. Reevaluate Rules Often
Rules should be revisited and reevaluated on a consistent basis to ensure that changes don’t need to be made. This provides an opportunity to eliminate outdated information or change current information to fit the needs of the community. If rules are consistently being broken by the majority of homeowners, it might be time to consider changing the rule or eliminating it entirely.