To maintain a safe, orderly, and peaceful neighborhood, homeowners associations impose rules to govern the community. However, not everyone always adheres to the association’s guidelines: where there are rules, there will be violators. How does the HOA handle repeat violators?
HOA Repeat Violations: What are they?
Homeowners associations do their best to protect the peace in the community, which is why they implement rules and regulations for everyone’s security and benefit. Standard guidelines to follow include parking restrictions, noise regulations, pet limits, designated smoking areas, trash rules, and even property or architectural provisions.
However, it can’t be helped that some residents will break a rule or two, whether accidentally or intentionally. When this happens, the resident is given an appropriate penalty according to the agreed-upon community documents.
The HOA board is to hold a hearing and issue a fine whenever a resident commits a violation. When the same resident breaks the same regulation more than once, repeatedly, or consecutively, it becomes known as HOA repeat violations. Persistent HOA repeat violations invite a troublesome cycle of frequent hearings and penalties and may even give rise to problems in the community.
Dealing with HOA Repeat Offenders
Homeowners associations are to ensure all residents abide by the rules; however, they are also faced with limited options in enforcing these guidelines. While penalties are an effective way to discourage breaching regulations, it’s also necessary to create precautions to minimize any repeat violations in the future.
It’s essential to know how to handle residents who have violations, much more than those that are repeat offenders. It’s best practice to talk to an HOA attorney, go over governing documents, and check state laws to help determine what you can do about community rule violators.
When newsletters, emails, and regular updates aren’t enough to make the rules clear to violators, it’s time for the HOA board to step up using these the following actions:
Notify a Warning
A first offense usually entails a warning in the form of an HOA violation letter or verbal notification. Apart from being a common requirement in state laws and governing documents, a notice is needed since some violations aren’t always on purpose. It may have been that the resident was unaware or left with no other choice but to break the rules.
The warning notice describes the violation in detail, including reaching out to the resident to schedule a hearing, allowing the resident to explain their side and correct their offense so you can settle things amicably.
Impose Monetary Fines
When despite warnings, the resident continues to ignore regulations and keep doing what they please, one of the widely used punishments by homeowners associations is imposing monetary fines.
No one likes paying fines, so in hopes of discouraging rule-breaking, the board can assign penalties from $25-$100 (depending on your community documents) to different types of violations, depending on the severity of the breach.
Escalating fine system
Another way to reinforce monetary fines for repeat violators is through the escalating fine system. The board can charge an increasing penalty for every subsequent violation of the same rule. For example:
First offense: $25-$50
Second offense: $50-$100
Third offense: up to $300-$500
Any fines the HOA imposes should be consistently imposed on all residents, reasonable and in line with the severity of the violation.
Revoke Community Privileges
Sometimes, imposing fines will fail to deter residents from breaking the rules as they can simply afford to pay for the penalty without correcting their actions. In these cases, suspending community privileges is a course of action for discouraging any more rule-breaking.
The board can temporarily restrict the resident from using community amenities like shared spaces, fitness centers, pools, and the like for a set period of time as a consequence of their violations in hopes of motivating them to follow the rules.
Placing a Lien or Foreclosure
What happens if a resident refuses to abide by the rules? Or comply with the consequences- like dues and fines? The association can place a lien on the property. Subsequently, the HOA can also foreclose on the lien.
Because of the severity of this option, it’s mainly considered only after careful consideration and as a last resort to collect the debt. It also requires the assistance of a lawyer. Meanwhile, if a resident pays fines but does not respect the rules, the HOA can take legal action and seek the court for injunctive relief.