When you purchase a home in a planned community such as a condominium, gated community, or planned unit development, you become a part of the homeowners’ association (HOA). The homeowners association is established by the community’s recorded governing documents. These documents generally include the by-laws, articles of incorporation and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). The documents provide for the association’s governance and establish a process for holding elections, adopting an association budget and establishing rules related to use of the property within the community.
Unfortunately, there may be occasion when someone fails to follow rules. The Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) will contain provisions for their enforcement. The majority of homeowner association residents – owners and tenants alike – follow the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). We have found that most who don’t, are unaware of a particular community rule and the violations are quickly resolved when the resident is notified.
Of course, this isn’t always the case. Disputes can escalate for many reasons including perceptions of unfairness, personality differences, or disagreements about the rule in question. It ultimately falls to the board to determine how and when a violation will be addressed by the association. Usually the violation receives a notification; followed by fines, suspension of voting rights and denial to use common area amenities. If the violation remains persistently unresolved, the board may evaluate whether to mediation or legal assistance is required.
Well run homeowners associations that enforce covenants and restrictions can enhance property values and make life much smoother for all residents. But, CC&R enforcement is not a one-way street. While the association has a duty to enforce its governing rules, residents have a right to expect the HOA to act in a fair and consistent manner. This means that rules are enforced the same for everyone in the community.
If you are on your HOA board, you may be called upon to make decisions about enforcing CC&Rs. Take the time to consider typical owner objections and how to best respond to these with minimal conflict. Enforcement isn’t easy, but it’s critical for your community’s reputation and existence.
Even the most difficult disputes can often be resolved. An effective mediator can often work through hurt feelings and strong egos to find a common ground. The key is to being open to alternative points of view.
Consistently and fairly enforcing Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) won’t resolve all your community’s challenges, but it will give you a big start on creating a stronger homeowners association.
Wise Property Solutions serves condominium and homeowners associations by addressing their financial, association and facilities management needs. The only certified and licensed community association management firm serving the Mountain South (Virginia, North & South Carolina, Tennessee) with offices in the Tri-Cities and Knoxville.