When a homeowner breaks an HOA bylaw or tule, the HOA needs to be able to address the issue promptly, professionally, and adequately. Enforcing rules is challenging and can create rifts with residents. Everything from gazebos to garage gyms to hosting parties has been a dispute amongst members and their HOA, so knowing how to handle HOA violations and discrepancies is important among HOA leaders.
Knowing how to deliver this news is key to keeping things steady and amicable. If a resident feels they have been discriminated against or are in the right when it comes to their choice to erect a treehouse, for example, they may turn around and attempt to sue their HOA, in which a mix of a good defense and HOA Insurance is vital for the HOA.
But before that happens, HOA leaders need to practice addressing violations among their residents. Here are some tips to consider.
Any action that takes place within an HOA community, either in a condo building or within an HOA housing neighborhood, that is in direct opposition to a declaration, articles of incorporation, bylaws, or guidelines and which is not expressly authorized by an HOA board, is a violation. It’s up to the HOA board to handle these issues, but a property manager can also help as they have the authority to distribute a violation notice.
Handling a Violation
Addressing a violation is never an easy task, but it still needs to be as straightforward as possible. Associations need to establish processes for managing breaches completely and efficiently. HOA leaders need to document these processes and have the information readily available to the entire HOA community. This helps to keep the resolution process consistent and public, so nobody is surprised.
When an HOA resident commits a violation for the first time, most HOA’s send a warning letter. This letter should include information about the nature of the breach, what actions the HOA may take if a resident breaks the rules again, the broken rule, and the violation’s date and location.
If an HOA board member responsible for the notice is comfortable, they may have to have a face-to-face visit or phone conversation to discuss the offense. This should be a friendly and professional conversation that is short and informative.
First Notice of Violation
If the owner breaks the same rule more than once, they can receive an initial violation notice following a warning. Most bylaws will ensure homeowners who receive a written notification have a reasonable opportunity to correct the violation before the issue escalates. HOA’s can send out notices through email, but some bylaws may require a print edition.
Violations need to provide the owner with enough information so that they can adequately respond to it. It should also give a date when the correction needs to occur and the exact sufficient amount if a fine were issued.
Second Violation Notice
If the owner fails to take care of the violation by the due date provided or the violation continues, the HOA may issue another notice. This should include information about the nature of the violation, why there was a second notice sent out, what needs to occur to remedy the violation, when the violation needs to be corrected, and what will happen if no corrections are made. Some HOA’s may issue a large fine or additional fines for every day the violation is not taken care of.
Place a Lien on the Home & Legal Action
At this point, if the owner has failed to take any action to fix the violation, an HOA can pursue legal action. However, many HOA’s do have other methods and procedures, such as mediation or arbitration, to try first to prevent such disputes from moving forward in a legal setting.
The HOA may also want to pursue placing a lien on the home before taking the problem to court as this is a more affordable and less time-consuming action. Nearly all state laws will require previous notification to the violation owner and the HOA’s plan to file a lien.
In some instances, the HOA will record a lien with the city to provide public notice that the lien on the home exists. If an HOA has a lien on the property, it may end up foreclosing on that lien, even if there is still a mortgage in place.
In a worst-case scenario situation, HOA’s may pursue legal action when trying to enforce a violation. It may be a necessary last resort action in rare cases, and HOA’s will generally do all they can to avoid this costly step.
About Kevin Davis Insurance Services
For over 35 years, Kevin Davis Insurance Services has built an impressive reputation as a strong wholesale broker offering insurance products for the community association industry. Our president Kevin Davis and his team take pride in offering committed services to the community association market and providing them with unparalleled access to high-quality coverage, competitive premiums, superior markets, and detailed customer service. To learn more about the coverage we offer, contact us toll-free at (855)-790-7393 to speak with one of our representatives.