The key to having a great homeowners association is a valuable set of HOA rules for your homeowners and board members. These regulations set the standard of your community association, and a fair and sensible set of rules helps create a sense of harmony in your neighborhood.
When you’re creating new HOA rules, it's important to focus on the key issues faced by your residents. You should create a new regulation with the intention of fostering a better atmosphere in your neighborhood.
Below are some of IKO's recommendations on how you can develop and enforce new rules without becoming the neighborhood villain:
- Analyze current regulations. Previous rules become outdated as times and neighbors change. Old rules may not meet the updated needs of your community association, which means you run the risk of violating new laws and regulations.
Consult with an attorney to ensure that your current CC&Rs are legal, and don’t be afraid to reassess rules that were created eons ago. In fact, this set of regulations could need the adjustment to mirror the evolving needs of your neighborhood.
- Get in touch with your neighbors. Take the time to interact with your neighbors to solve the most common problems in your neighborhood. Communicating with your fellow community members allows you to be more personable and involved in your neighborhood. Incorporate your residents into the rulemaking process to develop rules or limitations that are relevant to your community.
- Don’t use complicated language. By using simpler wording, you can help your neighbors better understand the HOA rule the board created. You should also clearly explain the outcomes if an individual were to break the new rule. By doing this, you will help prevent confusion with the new
- Make sure the new rule is reasonable. Everyone has heard of them: the shocking HOA rules that some boards come up with. For example, a community in Woodstock, Georgia, is under fire for restricting how many days community members can fly the American flag. Another community in Long Beach, California, fined a member for not carrying her dog through the condominium’s lobby.
When you're deciding which new regulations to enact, brainstorm with your fellow board members on what's fair and sensible. You don’t want your community to appear in national newspaper headlines.
- Promptly enforce your new rule. To help roll out the new regulation, make sure it's implemented instantly. Your community management organization can help administer the new HOA rule in a fair and consistent manner.
When a community member violates the new regulation, provide them with a warning. Make sure the wording is simple and friendly to smooth things over, as immediately issuing an HOA fine may cause tension between neighbors and the HOA board.
If your community association is slacking with rule enforcement, try to change the situation as soon as possible. By not enforcing rules, you run the risk of homeowners not complying or taking your rules seriously. The same can be said if your association is not enforcing the rules fairly between board members. Punishing one member while letting another get away with a violation is a quick way to strain your community’s relationships.
If your community isn’t fairly enforcing the rules or isn’t enforcing them at all, send a notice to your residents about common rule violations. In a friendly manner, inform them that all community rules and regulations will start to be enforced on a specific date.
- Review online complaints. By evaluating online complaints, you can see exactly what issues people are having with your neighborhood's authority. If your association has a complaint section online, pay attention to it. Reach out to your community members who have complained and let them know that you've received their complaint and are looking over the situation at hand.
Additionally, The Hignell Companies suggest following a set of guidelines for rules within your community. Some of these guidelines include ensuring that the rules aren’t too limiting, are based on proper authority, and the HOA board follows all legal requirements.
Even though creating a new rule within your community association is a huge responsibility, it doesn’t to strain relationships. These ideas should help roll out new rules in your community without sparking negative backlash.
If you need more tips on how to run a successful, harmonious community, download IKO's Guide To Successfully Running A Community Association: