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Subject: Issuing Fines
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Author Messages
EricB13
(Illinois)

Posts:17


07/29/2021 8:56 AM  
Our HOA mandates that garbage cans cannot be visible from the street. A resident was given a warning in February, and then the issue was marked as resolved in March.

Today during the drive-around, that resident had their garbage cans out again. They were immediately issues a second violation notice and fined.

I am a newer member to the board and personally, I don't think this is right since the initial violation was marked as resolved.
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


07/29/2021 9:06 AM  
If your board normally issues fines, doing the same wrong thing twice in a 3 month period would be a finable.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11667


07/29/2021 9:06 AM  
Eric

We treat recurring, identical violations (such as trash cans left out) as a continuance of the last violation and we increase the fine accordingly. Also if only a warning letter was sent the 1st time, we will then commence fining upon the 2nd violation even if months apart.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4297


07/29/2021 9:14 AM  
I don't see a problem. If this had been resolved, the owner wouldn't have repeated the behavior. The warning was issued in March, so why would this owner think it would be ok to leave the cans out again in July? Especially when people are more apt to put more junk in it due to cleaning up from parties or the mess accumulated from home improvement projects. It doesn't take long before that junk spills out and goes on the lawn of the neighbors.

Do you want to find someone's crap in on your lawn to clean up when you do your best to keep it clean? You don't say how long you've been in the community, but I would think everyone knows the rules by now - the warning should have been enough.

You're new to the board and will soon find some people think rules apply to everyone else but them - and it takes firmer action for them to straighten out. Often a snack in the wallet does the trick. Besides, you don't know if another member of that house was responsible - I suspect this homeowner will investigate and make sure it doesn't happen
again
ND
(PA)

Posts:640


07/29/2021 9:32 AM  
Posted By EricB13 on 07/29/2021 8:56 AM
Our HOA mandates that garbage cans cannot be visible from the street. A resident was given a warning in February, and then the issue was marked as resolved in March.

Today during the drive-around, that resident had their garbage cans out again. They were immediately issues a second violation notice and fined.

I am a newer member to the board and personally, I don't think this is right since the initial violation was marked as resolved.



I think fining anyone over a visible trash can is in most cases ridiculous, unless a homeowner is blatantly and repeatedly disregarding the rule and doing things out of spite. Trash cans could be on wheels; they move around; wind and weather move them; kids mess with them; people forget; of all things to be concerned about and with the craziness of things nowadays, a slightly visible trash can ranks pretty low for me.

That said, what does your violation and fine policy say about recurring instances of the same violation?

Personally I think that if the policy and HOA documents are silent on that concept then it has to treat recurrences of the same violation as it would an initial finding of any other violation; with a warning letter and opportunity to fix the problem. The Board/MC can't just decide that it now makes sense to start issuing fines each time the same issue occurs. If that's the desire, then it needs to become part of the policy. That said, I do totally agree that recurring instances of the same violation do warrant an escalation of penalty, it's just that I feel the policy needs to explicitly indicate this for it to be known by all and enforceable.
EricB13
(Illinois)

Posts:17


07/29/2021 9:43 AM  
That is the issue I see. It doesn't address a violation if it occurs again after being resolved. I'm waiting on a response from our management company.

This was another example I gave them: if a homeowner gets a violation for not sealcoating their driveway, they do the work, and then 5 years later they get a violation, should they be fined? By the current practice yes, but I'd be really mad to get a fine 5 years later.

As you mentioned, there is not statute regarding time between fines. Are we really going to fine homeowners for a garbage can violation 3 years apart?
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:591


07/29/2021 9:57 AM  
Do you have a covenant enforcement fining policy? Most declarations aren't going to get as granular as defining how many times in a certain period a violation counts as the same violation. But boards can expand on what is in the declaration with a policy that spells out the sequence of letters and fines, and the window in which a second occurrence of a violation is considered separate or a continuation of the first.
EricB13
(Illinois)

Posts:17


07/29/2021 10:28 AM  
The only thing we have listed is this:

"Any violation not corrected within 14 days following the date of the first written demand to cease and desist from the alleged violation will cause a fine of $25 to be added to and deemed part of the next monthly assessment. If, after 30 days, the violation is not cured, the fine will go to an additional $25 per day until the violation is corrected"

The way I look at it means case open, and then case closed. The homeowner got a notice and then was marked in our system as rectifying the violation.

Just because a few months later you have a new case opened against you, shouldn't mean an automatic fine.
ND
(PA)

Posts:640


07/29/2021 11:53 AM  
Posted By EricB13 on 07/29/2021 10:28 AM
The only thing we have listed is this:

"Any violation not corrected within 14 days following the date of the first written demand to cease and desist from the alleged violation will cause a fine of $25 to be added to and deemed part of the next monthly assessment. If, after 30 days, the violation is not cured, the fine will go to an additional $25 per day until the violation is corrected"

The way I look at it means case open, and then case closed. The homeowner got a notice and then was marked in our system as rectifying the violation.

Just because a few months later you have a new case opened against you, shouldn't mean an automatic fine.



Where is this listed? CC&Rs, a separate Board-adopted policy, rules & regs doc, somewhere else?

As presently written and if it is the only applicable excerpt from your docs, then yes I agree with you that once the situation was initially corrected (and indicated as "resolved" by HOA/Board/MC), then if this violation were to reoccur, then it needs to be considered a new violation which starts the clock and process again.

To your point, since there is no time frame presently on repeat occurrences of the same violation, then in theory this homeowner shall forever be hit with a $25 fine at each instance of them leaving their trash can visible.
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


07/29/2021 12:06 PM  
On the face of it, the homeowner was issued a warning in February and now has left the garbage cans out again in July. It would seem to me that they get 1 warning and then fines if they don't fix what is wrong.

The idea that each time they pull their garbage cans in starts the warning process anew doesn't make sense. (I'm assuming that they rolled their cans in around March, notified the property manager, and then it was marked resolved).

In general, you get 1 warning and then get more serious enforcement.

How that lines up with your policies I am not sure, but HOAs don't necessarily follow policies to the letter. Sometimes they do what makes sense.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:591


07/29/2021 1:07 PM  
Posted By EricB13 on 07/29/2021 10:28 AM
The only thing we have listed is this:

"Any violation not corrected within 14 days following the date of the first written demand to cease and desist from the alleged violation will cause a fine of $25 to be added to and deemed part of the next monthly assessment. If, after 30 days, the violation is not cured, the fine will go to an additional $25 per day until the violation is corrected"

The way I look at it means case open, and then case closed. The homeowner got a notice and then was marked in our system as rectifying the violation.

Just because a few months later you have a new case opened against you, shouldn't mean an automatic fine.




Sounds like its time to talk to your fellow board members about adopting a policy regarding what constitutes an ongoing violation.
MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:306


07/29/2021 4:21 PM  
Did any Board member speak to this homeowner about this recent issue?
EricB13
(Illinois)

Posts:17


08/06/2021 6:09 AM  
Thanks for the comments everyone. Our management company goes around to check for violations and then does the follow ups if the violations aren't resolved. After discussion everyone seemed to understand the point I was making about timeframes based on how it's written in our declaration documents (and R&Rs). I believe we will close the grey area on repeat offenses
DavidG45
(Delaware)

Posts:146


08/06/2021 6:48 AM  
Posted By HenryS6 on 07/29/2021 12:06 PM
On the face of it, the homeowner was issued a warning in February and now has left the garbage cans out again in July. It would seem to me that they get 1 warning and then fines if they don't fix what is wrong.

The idea that each time they pull their garbage cans in starts the warning process anew doesn't make sense. (I'm assuming that they rolled their cans in around March, notified the property manager, and then it was marked resolved).

In general, you get 1 warning and then get more serious enforcement.

How that lines up with your policies I am not sure, but HOAs don't necessarily follow policies to the letter. Sometimes they do what makes sense.




That is my thought. It doesn't make sense to me that an owner can repeatedly violate the rules and always just get a warning because they temporarily rectified the problem. They could be in a near permanent state of violation and never get fined.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1469


08/06/2021 12:33 PM  
Posted By EricB13 on 07/29/2021 8:56 AM
Our HOA mandates that garbage cans cannot be visible from the street. A resident was given a warning in February, and then the issue was marked as resolved in March.

Today during the drive-around, that resident had their garbage cans out again. They were immediately issues a second violation notice and fined.

I am a newer member to the board and personally, I don't think this is right since the initial violation was marked as resolved.





What exactly do you mean by visible from the street? Are they on the side of the house, or in front of the garage or by the front door? Since our garbage collection went to a single driver picking up trash, our provider gave everybody two cans, one for waste and the other for recyclables. With that changeover, county and local laws changed allowing homeowners to place the trash cans on the side of their house because the cans are wider than 16 inches. Check with your local ordinances before you act.
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