HOA Boards often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand their job is to make and enforce rules to improve and maintain the community. On the other hand, neighbors interpret their actions as harsh and sometimes label them as controlling.
After years in the property management business we at Gulf South Property Management have found that ill will in communities often comes from two places. The first most common problem in disgruntled communities is the unequal enforcement of rules. Following in a close second place is a genuine lack of understanding of the rules.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Homeowners have a common desire to maintain their own property values. Building on this commonality compliance really should be a non issue. After all, when everyone is rowing in the same direction, the value of the community as a whole is maintained and often time improves.
If you have a problem with homeowners consistently breaking the association rules and regulations, it may be time for a deeper dive to see what you could be doing better to help homeowners follow the rules in your HOA. Here are a few things that you can improve in your community to make it as easy as possible for everyone to follow the rules.
Keep the Rules Consistent
If the rules in your association have been changing on a regular basis lately, this may be the reason that residents are having a hard time following them. If changes to the rules are necessary, it is best to make the changes slowly to give everyone the chance to adjust. Be sure rules are easily accessible either from the property management company or on your website and new rules are disseminated to the entire association.
Keep the Rules Simple
Rules that are too complex will be hard for the community to follow. Try looking through the rules and regulations to see if there are any that are especially complicated and see if you can simplify them to help out the homeowners. This is especially true when managing architectural control requests. Be clear and concise on what is and is not allowed in your community. Make architectural request forms easy to fill out and include a check list of items that must be submitted for an application to be considered complete ( i.e. set backs, diagrams, permits, paint colors etc.)
If you have been lax with the rules in the past, especially if you are in a self managed community, it comes as no surprise that neighbors are not compliant. The change will have to start with the board. Focus on consistently enforcing the rules. Consistency will cause greater compliance.
One way to manage consistent enforcement of the rules is to hire a property management company that is familiar with covenant and restriction enforcement. At Gulf South Property Management our friendly, effective approach to compliance issues has turned around neighborhoods in a matter of weeks. After all, homeowners are “owners” and, as such, they want to protect their largest investment.
Practice Good Communication
Homeowners who do not know the rules will have a hard time following them. Be sure to communicate effectively by sending emails, posting notices, and sending out a newsletter. The governing documents should also be made easily available through the website, and you can keep a copy of them in the office. Your property management company can assist in the dissemination and availability of association documents.
Nothing is more frustrating to a community than rules that are irregularly or unfairly enforced. If one person experiences consequences for breaking a community rule, then everyone should be treated likewise. Treat everyone in the community the same, and you will see a rise in overall compliance.
Reexamine Problem Rules
It may be that a particular rule is unreasonable, written poorly in the governing documents, or altogether unnecessary. If you find that one of your rules is consistently broken by multiple residents, it may be time to examine the rule and either change it or get rid of it.
Although some infractions may be the result of unruly residents, most breaches of the governing documents can be solved by first looking at the behavior of the board. It is the board’s responsibility to set a good example for the rest of the community, and to ensure that it is encouraging correct actions through the way that it enforces rules, the way that it communicates with homeowners, and the way the rules are written. If you are having problems with dissenters, it is time to take a closer look at the management of your association.
Gulf South Property Management practices a fresh, friendly and effective approach to compliance issues. Give us a call today to see how we can help your neighborhood.