How to Track HOA Violations in the Communities you Manage
One of the more unfortunate but necessary parts of the HOA management business is managing and enforcing HOA violations within the community. Although most property managers and board members often do everything to avoid such an incident, HOA violations are nearly unavoidable in the grand scheme of things. In that case, preparation, consistency, and organization become the foundational pillars of an efficient HOA violation system that allows for good communication between the board and residents and swift and efficient enforcement of the HOA guidelines.
Herein lies the problem that most HOA boards and management companies run into; organization. HOA violations are not a new phenomenon in the property management world, but the resources available now to document, track, and ultimately complete the HOA violation process are much more advanced and helpful than they’ve ever been. From the initial infraction by the resident to the subsequent disciplinary processes on the board that follows, HOA’s now can eliminate the confusion and inconsistency that arise from trying to track and document these violations all by themselves.
To do so, however, following a simple guideline like the one below can be an easily implementable strategy to give management companies and HOA boards the tools they need to both remain consistent in their actions following a violation. This can also function as a way to eliminate unnecessary violations through better communication with residents.
What board members and managers can find below is a small guide to help get started with untangling the HOA violation tracking process in ways that might make their respective HOA an even better organization:
Know the rules both inside and outside of your HOA
Be aware of the rules and laws before issuing violations
Suppose there was one fatal flaw in the entire HOA violation tracking process from the perspective of the board and the management company. In that case, the disciplinary members handling the violation not knowing their HOA guidelines or the laws that dictate them. In other words, if you want to create an effective violation tracking system, it’s imperative that you, as either the board member or manager, understand the ins and outs of the violated rule in question, as well as the laws within your state that dictate how you can proceed.
Create a system for reviewing violations
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to memorize every word in a particular HOA rule or legal clause within your state to maintain an effective tracking system. Yet, it does mean that you need to have a readily available system in place that does let you find any blindspots, either in the HOA guidelines or the law, that you might be confused about when reviewing a violation.
Having such a system can work beyond just the HOA violation tracking reasons, but it is beneficial to have a consistent way to confirm the rules before you move any further. This not only benefits the integrity of the board and the management company, but it increases the trust that residents will have in the powers that be that they know what they’re doing.
Create a consistent disciplinary system for violations
Another way to cripple the success of tracking HOA violations effectively is not to formulate an official system for responses to certain HOA violations. In other words, an HOA board or a management company should be able to effectively move forward with disciplinary actions for certain violations because it has already established a framework for how it responds to those violations from previous events.
Avoid disputes by establishing a consistant process
Where extended disputes arise with homeowners are in the HOA’s where the same contravention isn’t managed, tracked, or even disciplined in the same method each time. This creates more work for the board and managers trying to resolve the dispute. Still, it makes a more adversarial relationship with homeowners wondering why their violation is receiving a harsher punishment than a previous occurrence of the exact nature.
This consistent system should focus on the details of the entire violation process; how homeowners are notified of their violation, how and when they need to respond to the initial notice, how the board will move forward if this violation continues or remains unresolved, and what exact disciplinary action is going to arise from the violation. These aren’t systems board members also have to create out of thin air, as there are both technological resources to help with the notification process (more below) as well local and state laws to look towards in terms of any established precedents for the number of fines residents will receive for their violation.
Utilize software programs
You shouldn’t expect to do most of the effective violation tracking on your own, and that is why investing in and implementing the proper HOA software is important.
Benefits of software programs:
- View all open and closed violations
- Manage outstanding disputes that haven't been resolved
- Define a clear process for all violations
- Save time by automating the violation process
Even more importantly, most software programs used to manage HOA violations can automate much of the process that previously took up the time and energy of board members and property managers everywhere. Implementing software improves the efficiency of the violation process, which in turn creates higher success rates in resolving violation disputes and removes a large chunk of the administrative and record-keeping duties off the plates of those managing an HOA.
The software can provide HOA boards and management companies with tools that allow them to track the statistics of how and when their HOA violations are resolved, the frequency of particular violations are taking place, and many other specificities that go into knowing not only how to dole out a specific punishment for the violation, but how to do it in the most efficient way possible. Although it’s still essential for managers and board members to know how to relay this information to homeowners and residents effectively, allowing a system to aid in the nuts and bolts of that process is a must in this day and age.
Provide top-notch communication
This last tip, in particular, remains so vital because, as stated above, the best software programs and online tools available can only improve the HOA violation tracking system to a certain extent; board members and managers’ abilities to communicate this information effectively to their residents is as crucial to running an effective HOA.
Implement a communication software
What communication means in this context is creating access to apps or other online portals that allow for faster and easier ways for homeowners and board members to speak with each other when a violation has been made, and both parties are attempting to resolve the dispute. If a particular homeowner receives a violation notice, apps like TownSq, which help to streamline communications between all parties within an HOA, can provide the vessel for how that homeowner can go about either resolving that violation or asking further questions on the violation.
Consistently share updates to any changes to HOA rules and regulations
In turn, board members and management companies can use apps and online communication portals to relay changes in HOA policies, or even disciplinary actions in the violations themselves, to their residents faster so that everyone in the community can remain on the same page. Although the technical aspects of the HOA violation tracking process must be updated and reimagined using the virtual tools and systems now available to board members and managers, the human connection in implementing those systems and guiding their respective homeowners through them is equally valuable.