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Subject: violation procedure
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LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:85


05/17/2020 10:23 PM  
I have a question on how everyone is handling violations, specifically who is responsible for issuing them. We have a 130 home community in GA with a 5 member board consisting of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and member at large. Our governing only specify that the board is responsible, but does not specifically list it as a duty of the president or any of the other officers and there are no documented procedures.

My interpretation is that this means that the board needs to agree on who takes on this role and decide if it should be done by a committee, officer or all should be reviewed by the board. This was never discussed at this year's or last years board meeting as a whole and currently the president (new to the role this year) is insisting that it is their responsibility to do so, without oversight from the board. This is my second year on the board and that doesn't seem right. How are others handling things like this?
MarkW18


Posts:1067


05/17/2020 10:29 PM  
I feel the president should step up to the plate and be the bad guy.
LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:85


05/17/2020 10:41 PM  
Can you expand on what you mean by this?

IE: should they take on this role without getting board agreement that this is their role? Also, should there be any prior review done with the board before issuing violation notices? What about access to violation notices that have been sent out? Should the board, or any member be able to review those?

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9306


05/17/2020 11:46 PM  
We as the board would agree it is a violation. The HOA board would write a violation letter to the owner stating the rule they were violating and punishment they face. Some HOA's may pay their MC to handle this. It has to be in the contract of course. The violator could then come to a board meeting and explain their case. There was no one specific bad person but the board.

Now it may be that the President is the one that will ultimately take official action on behalf of the board. In our case, it was me that wrote the letter but signed as HOA board. I also may be the one that arranges the punishment. For us we never fined. Instead the HOA retained the right to fix the violation and send the owner the bill. IF that bill was unpaid, then we could lien for that bill. This doesn't work for all HOA's but that is how ours was set up.

So the board can decide amongst themselves whom they want this role to ultimately fall onto if necessary. It is typically the President but doesn't mean always.

Former HOA President
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3224


05/18/2020 4:51 AM  
Committee members are appointed by the board and the board also provides inside on what to do and how to do it. It's ok for the committee to make recommendations to the board, because that's usually why they were established. So your instincts are right - the board oversees the association operations and doesn't delegate its authority to a common or property manager.

I bring up properly manager because some communities pay theirs to conduct periodic walk through to Vicente violations and issue letters. The board is still responsible for conducting appeal hearings and might tell the property manager to focus on specific violations that may be a bigger problem.

Rules enforcement can be a tacky business, but it's necessary because all homeowners agree to comply with the rules when they buy a home. The key is to be clear, consistent and fair - and If people get huffy and refuse to comply, The board needs to be willing to duke it out in court if it comes to that.

Tell this committee a change may be coming regarding its role in rules enforcement. That doesn't mean they won't be involved, but there will be more board oversight. The board can remove committee members as easily as they were appointed, so if someone has an issue, they can leave on their own or be femoved. You can also point them to the documents to prove your point and challenge them to find some that says they can do whatever without board oversight. That should make them pip down.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2681


05/18/2020 5:48 AM  
Lance,

If you have a sufficient number of interested owners to form a committee, then an Architectural Review Committee (ARC), or something like that could review both ARC requests and inspect for violations.

Further, I see no need for the Board to approve of violations, but it does need to bless the ARC to do this.

Then, you need a fines committee - Florida statute 720 is pretty inclusive re this with an independent three person committee, with final decision back to the Board based on fines committee approval.
SueW6
(Michigan)

Posts:693


05/18/2020 5:49 AM  
Lance
“Violations” must be based on written CCRs or bylaws or rules and regulations.

Therefore, they are very objective.

Your bylaws should outline the steps for issuing a violation and fines. Again - very objective.

The board should really stay away from being the police, judge and jury and tax collector.

Establish a Committee or hire this job out.
SamE2
(New Jersey)

Posts:258


05/18/2020 6:11 AM  
Do you have a management company? I think the president is crazy, no sane person would want the sole responsibility of fining neighbors. I would have the management company do it or create a committee or have the board do it
ND
(PA)

Posts:440


05/18/2020 6:40 AM  
It doesn't sound like you presently have a process. This isn't something that you just decide to do and then start doing, unless you want a lot of backlash. And certainly it's not an individual responsibility; it's a Board responsibility . . . typically implemented by an uninterested party (management company or committee) with decisions being made by the Board (not an individual officer).

Assuming your docs and state HOA law allow it, start with creating a violation process. There needs to be a means for identifying and/or reporting violations against your covenants, rules & regs, architectural guidelines, state HOA law, etc.; informing the violator; allowing for the violator to be heard by the Board/Committee; subsequent confirmation/re-notification of violation; and eventual issuance of fine(s) based on severity, continued lack of compliance, and re-occurrence of violation.

Further, if your community has never really had a process, you need to introduce this slowly, methodically, and intentionally. You must relay the need for creation/implementation of the process; give homeowners plenty of advanced notice of when the process will start; and then be reasonable with identification of violations. You also must ensure violations are identified/issued uniformly throughout the community regardless of who the violator is. Unequal treatment in regard to violations and selectively enforcing rules will get you in hot water quickly. If you go full throttle on issuing violations in a short period of time, you're going to have a very upset community, and a very rough go as a Board Member.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:707


05/18/2020 8:24 AM  
If your governing documents say the board is responsible for enforcing violations then the board, as a body, should be making the decisions. The president is one member of the board. He runs the meetings but has no more authority than any other member of the board. He should not be doing anything without board approval.

Nothing would prevent the board from setting guidelines for enforcing violations and having one member of the board follow those guidelines. In other words, the president could initiate actions but only when based on guidelines set by the board.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9461


05/18/2020 8:50 AM  
Our MC plays the heavy in writing violation letters but he only does so at the direction of our BOD. Easy enough in SC as we can discuss them over the phone between BOD Members. We also have a published fine schedule,.

There are always arguments on "anonymous". Our BOD will investigate any and all complaints, regardless of the source, and we will then make the decision.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:315


05/18/2020 8:59 AM  
Posted By LanceG1 on 05/17/2020 10:23 PM
I have a question on how everyone is handling violations, specifically who is responsible for issuing them. We have a 130 home community in GA with a 5 member board consisting of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and member at large. Our governing only specify that the board is responsible, but does not specifically list it as a duty of the president or any of the other officers and there are no documented procedures.

My interpretation is that this means that the board needs to agree on who takes on this role and decide if it should be done by a committee, officer or all should be reviewed by the board. This was never discussed at this year's or last years board meeting as a whole and currently the president (new to the role this year) is insisting that it is their responsibility to do so, without oversight from the board. This is my second year on the board and that doesn't seem right. How are others handling things like this?




What were you doing before this president asked for the job?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:953


05/18/2020 9:30 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/18/2020 5:48 AM
Lance,

If you have a sufficient number of interested owners to form a committee, then an Architectural Review Committee (ARC), or something like that could review both ARC requests and inspect for violations.

Further, I see no need for the Board to approve of violations, but it does need to bless the ARC to do this.

Then, you need a fines committee - Florida statute 720 is pretty inclusive re this with an independent three person committee, with final decision back to the Board based on fines committee approval.





This may work for your community. In my community, violations are considered confidential, so having other homeowners do anything other than report them is a no-go.

You also need to be careful because a committee of this type can naturally attract those who believe that they are the cops and have the right to tell others what to do. They may also assume that being on the committee gives them the full authority of being a board member and the right to countermand board instructions, leading to unnecessary turmoil and conflict. (Ask me how I know this.) :-)
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:953


05/18/2020 9:55 AM  
Our board is responsible for dealing with violations and must agree on how to proceed with each. We don't want one person to be known as the bad guy - it also makes the process more impartial in cases where a single board member may have a "history" with the violator in question, either good or bad.

Our complaints must be submitting in writing, and we have a form that people can fill out. If we receive a complaint, we also will not act unless we receive some type of evidence supporting the accusation: a photo or video, or a second complaint from another homeowner. This is to prevent the board from ending up in court with hearsay evidence only, should things go that far.

I agree that many violations are pretty cut and dried. However, enforcement involves a certain amount of judgement. If the board is too lenient, then the community can go downhill - on the other hand, nobody wants to live in a police state. We try to be somewhere between these two extremes, although reasonable people can disagree on exactly where that is. (Our attorney did mention once that doing daily walk-throughs of the community to catch violators is inappropriate, so we have at least some legal support for our middle-of-the-road approach.)
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9461


05/18/2020 10:12 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 05/18/2020 9:30 AM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/18/2020 5:48 AM
Lance,

If you have a sufficient number of interested owners to form a committee, then an Architectural Review Committee (ARC), or something like that could review both ARC requests and inspect for violations.

Further, I see no need for the Board to approve of violations, but it does need to bless the ARC to do this.

Then, you need a fines committee - Florida statute 720 is pretty inclusive re this with an independent three person committee, with final decision back to the Board based on fines committee approval.





This may work for your community. In my community, violations are considered confidential, so having other homeowners do anything other than report them is a no-go.

You also need to be careful because a committee of this type can naturally attract those who believe that they are the cops and have the right to tell others what to do. They may also assume that being on the committee gives them the full authority of being a board member and the right to countermand board instructions, leading to unnecessary turmoil and conflict. (Ask me how I know this.) :-)




This is why our BOD does not appoint committees. We do not need conflict. We rule. We do appoint people to specific projects but they make no decisions.
MarshallT
(New York)

Posts:58


05/28/2020 4:17 PM  
Our board president usually handles violations, we use https://www.condocontrolcentral.com/feature/violation-tracking-management/ If you have a property manager then they are supposed to be responsible for handling violations
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2681


05/28/2020 5:42 PM  
FS 720 is pretty clear on the fines committee and the process.
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