Covenant Enforcement: Do Rules
and Regulations Mean Anything Anymore?
While it is important. serving
on the association's board is time consuming and can often become frustrating.
You have a multitude of issues competing for your attention - whether its
adopting the budget, monitoring performance and renewing service contracts,
insurance renewals, supervision/hiring and retention of employees or collecting
delinquent assessments. Board members are also faced with the task
of enforcing rules and regulations. How many times have you heard
the following as a board member?
Rules and Regulations set forth
the standard of conduct expected of community residents. Rule enforcement
preserves the aesthetic quality of the neighborhood, maintains order and
enhances community living. Many people buy a condominium or a home
in a neighborhood because they like the way the grounds look, the parking
garage isn't full of owner's junk, paint isn't peeling off the houses,
people aren't blasting their radios late at night and guests have to register
at the entrance. However, they become annoyed or downright argumentative
when the board instructs them to pressure clean the roof, turn down the
radio at night, discontinue parking a truck on the property and to get
rid of a dog or cat where pets are against the rules.
"Rules Are Made to Be Broken"
"You Can't Tell Me What to Do
- Its My Property"
"Mind Your Own Business"; or
"I Don't Care - You Can't Do
Anything About it Anyway"
Rule violations bring on
additional complaints from the compliant owners. Then you hear "why
haven't you done anything" or "when are you going to stop so-and-so from
x, y or z". Some boards give up after writing letters and issuing
warnings thinking they cannot enforce the rules effectively, but that is
not the case. With careful planning, careful rule making and a policy
of consistent enforcement, owners are forced to comply with rules and,
in many cases, must pay reasonable attorney's fees and costs as a result.
Here are some tips:
2010 changes to the condominium
and homeowners' association statutes provide for additional remedies.
The association may levy fines and/or suspend use rights under certain
Document the violation;
Notify the owner of the offensive
activity in writing (and tenant if applicable) and demand they cease and
desist within a reasonable time and, should the violation continue, that
legal action will be taken;
Cite to the section of the documents
or rule being violated;
Issue a demand letter from the
association’s legal counsel warning the owner (and tenant, if applicable)
if the objectionable activity does not cease within a reasonable period,
formal legal action to obtain compliance with the governing documents and
for an award of attorney’s fees and costs will be taken;
Commence mandatory, non-binding
arbitration to require the unit owner’s compliance if applicable; or
Commence an action in court
(after demand for pre-suit mediation if applicable) seeking an order requiring
that the non-complying and/or offensive activity cease and for an award
of the association’s attorney’s fees and costs for bringing the action.
If your rules are important
then don't be afraid to enforce those rules. If the rules are no
longer relevant to your community, change the rules. Community association
regulations are designed to change as a result of changes in the community.
Some changes can be made at the board level while other changes require