Improve the HOA violation process in the communities you manage

Improve the HOA violation process in the communities you manage

December 22, 2021

If you work in HOA management, we’re sure you’ve had your share of working with the HOA violation process — which is no walk in the park. HOA violations are probably one of the most challenging processes to organize and communicate. Thanks to the new resources now available that help track and complete HOA violations, the process itself has become more advanced and easier to maintain. No longer are the days of hard-copy violations or hand-written letters. We’re now lingering into a new generation where people need and want their information faster.   

Challenges in enforcing HOA violations 

  1. Selective enforcement - “Selective enforcement is when the homeowners’ association enforces a particular rule against only one homeowner, or possibly against a small group of homeowners, but does not enforce that same rule against the entire community.” This challenge can lead to several problems down the road, such as bylaw violations, legal enforcement, and even removing the HOA board of directors.  
  2. Lack of consistency - This can be a troubling challenge for many HOAs that lack consistent communication. For example, suppose an HOA board of directors only communicates rules when a violation happens vs. making it a routine communication. In that case, this can make it difficult for HOA members to know what constitutes a violation or, even worse, not take it seriously.
  3. Every state is different - Some states may enforce rules more often than others. Although the law obligates each state to implement these rules, it is strictly up to the HOA to exercise its rules and violation policies. State laws can also be misconstrued for other states' laws. If members are not up-to-date, it can be easy to be misinformed about your state laws.  

What can we do to help improve the HOA violation process for communities? 

1.  Third-party applications

Since Covid-19, HOA’s have taken advantage of the new advancements in technology. One of which is using third-party applications that help manage and facilitate violation processes critical to any HOA community. 

Benefits of third-party applications may include: 

  1. Manage outstanding disputes
  2. Defining a clear process 
  3. It saves time and cost
  4. Quick response and lead time 
  5. Accessibility 

TownSq: Considered one of the most advanced HOA software, TownSq is known to enhance many HOA communities with its processes, such as HOA violations.

  1. Communication - provides a tracking system and source of online tools used for communicating HOA violations.
  2. Automatic push notifications - provides members a way to receive notifications and messages by offering text and email communication, along with auto-response forms. 
  3. Organization - keeps communication and forms organized so that issues are resolved promptly. 

2. Make rules accessible for all members

When it comes to enhancing any process, accessibility will always be a factor. As a community manager, it’s essential to consider the layout of processes and how you will make those processes accessible. One way to do this is by offering an advanced form of documentation. For example, TownSq offers a documentation process and feature where users can view and download individual documents such as CC&R’s, by-laws, or HOA rules & regulations.

Benefits include: 

  1. Private categories - managers can keep documents such as CC&Rs, by-laws, and other rules accessible to all residents allowing them to be informed of what would constitue as a violation.  
  2. Organize the process - with TownSq boards and managers can privetly message residents about a potential violation, keeping a digital paper trail of all communication.
  3. One place for it all- as a manager, you have one platform to keep track of all your communites, where you can add important HOA documents, keep track of all communications to residents, eliminating the need for multiple emails and phone calls.

3. HOA violation committee

If you’re going to communicate HOA violations to a community, you must be educated on what they are. As a board member or manager, it's imperative to know the ins and outs of your violation policies. 

One way to ensure your members are fully informed about their violation process is by creating an HOA violation committee. Committees perform inspections, and schedule landscape walks with vendors, managers or a designated inspector. They also provide knowledge to the community consistently by holding committee meetings and Q&A sessions for all community members to take part in.

Some additional benefits include:

  1. Reduced violations
  2. Consistency 
  3. Communication 
  4. Community involvement

4.  Big picture view evaluation

  As the saying goes, “you gotta get rid of the bad to get to the new.” As a property manager, you’ve probably seen scenarios and processes unfold either for the best or the worst of the community. 

As an HOA manager, it's your job to strive for the best HOA community! We must take a few steps back to look at the overall picture by doing this.  

  1. Is your HOA satisfied by its violation policy? 
  2. What struggles do you deal with in regards to the violation process? 
  3. Why do you struggle with your violation process? 
  4. Is there change needed for the violation process to improve?

Although change can be easier said than done, there’s always room for improvement. It’s pretty standard for HOA communities to find themselves in a rut with the same old routines and a lack of change. Sometimes those changes are dictated and maneuvered by the same people or teams. To bring change, you must allow those to see the possibilities.  Many communities bring in an inspector to conduct all HOA inspections.  This helps keep things consistent and professional.

Open board meeting: 

If you find your community in this situation, consider having an open meeting with your board of directors or your management company. 

  1. Provide examples and research of ways that you feel the violation process could be changed or enhanced. 
  2. Includes profits, cost, or even stats as a way to justify your reasoning.
  3. Include feedback from other members of the community you manage. 
  4. Show how your idea could lead to long-term growth.     

Not sure where your community stands? Consider taking our HOA violation process quiz to see if your HOA community should seek additional assistance: HOA Violation Quiz