How to handle a violation notice from your HOA

We often hear that the “HOA Nazis” are out to get them.  With nothing better to do with their time, they spend hours upon hours looking for infractions and sending out senseless violation notices. Who are these people and who do they think they are?!?

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s easy to get frustrated when you think your homeowners association is telling you what you can and cannot do with your home … and they are.

Homeowners associations are charged with making sure everyone follows the rules.  Property  management companies are essential in helping to uniformly enforce the Covenants and Restriction and Rules that govern a community.

Remember, you purchased there for a reason – you liked how the neighborhood looked. It is the job of the HOA and the property management company to keep the association looking as good today as they day you moved in.

Here are four things to do if you receive a Violation Notice from your HOA


Establishing Enforceable Rules for the Association

When you decide to purchase a home in a neighborhood that is subject to Covenants and Restrictions certain responsibilities follow – abiding by governing documents of the association, paying assessments timely and following the rules and regulations of the association.

To maintain the aesthetics of the subdivision the board must establish and maintain an enforceable set of rules that are clear, fair and enforced against all homeowners.  After all, those rules are likely the reason the neighborhood was attractive to you in the first place.

Here are a few tips for establishing Rules and Regulations that are clear, fair and, most importantly, enforceable.


Maintaining Board Membership

It is inevitable that associations will go through board member resignations from time to time.  Resignations can result from a change in jobs, scheduling conflicts, a family health emergency or a move.  They  can also result from frustrated or overwhelmed members.  Maintaining consistency through board transitions is paramount.  One way to do that is to have the right property management company in place to work though the transition phase.

Below are a few tips to help minimize the avoidable resignations.

Here are a  few tips to assist your HOA in reducing board resignations.


Well Funded Reserve Accounts


Members of the Board of Directors of neighborhood associations have responsibility for managing the association’s finances and creating budgets that allow a community to preserve property values.  A major part of this fiduciary responsibility is the board’s responsibility to budget for future repairs or unanticipated expenses.  To accomplish this goal, an up-to-date reserve fund is critical to the financial management of a community.

Here are four great reasons to make sure your reserves are properly funded:


How to Make the Most of Annual Meetings


Annual meetings serve two functions, one of which is often overlooked.

Obviously the annual meeting is the place where the business of the association is conducted. Votes are taken and the Board of Directors is elected.

The more overlooked opportunity is the second function of the meeting.

In addition to conducting regular business, the annual meeting is an opportunity for the Board of Directors to show off their hard work by educating neighbors on the progress the Association has made over the past year and their vision for the upcoming year.

Here are a few helpful hints to make the most of your association’s annual meeting. (more…)

How to curb speeding in your community

It’s back to school time and that means lots of little kids running around.  From morning and afternoon bus stops to burning after school energy, children and pets are out and about this time of the year.

Here are tips on how to curb speeding in your community:


Board Member Burnout??

Are you suffering from board member burnout?

While it’s a compliment to be selected to serve as a board member for your homeowners association, it’s also a big responsibility. From meetings to budgeting, the role of a board member is extremely robust.  When a handful of people are the designated decision makers for an entire community, it can be easy to get tired of fulfilling the never-ending duties of the role.

Read on for a few tips on how to avoid burning out before you’re ready.  (more…)

Which HOA Documents Control?

As a board member it’s important to review and understand the governing documents of your Homeowners Association.  In the event you or a fellow homeowner notice a conflict between association documents, you’ll need to know how to filter through all of the association’s information and know which document to follow.

But seriously…

What do you do if one of your HOA’s governing documents conflicts with another document or with state or federal laws?


Helping Homeowners Follow the Rules in Your HOA

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.)


Improve Enforcement

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.


Enforce Impartially

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.

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