Improving Compliance with Covenants: 3 Strategies

Ensuring compliance with your community’s covenants is perhaps the best way to reduce unnecessary conflict and increase harmony among neighbors. There are no foolproof methods, but these strategies can help.

Set Expectations

As members of the Board of Directors change over time, so too can the priorities and focus of the Board and the community. One crucial step to ensuring compliance with the covenants is to educate members so that they understand expectations. The reality is that many, if not most, people living in HOAs have never actually read the covenants, despite agreeing to abide by them when purchasing their home. As such, many owners may be in violation because they simply do not know what is or is not allowed. The association should set expectations for the community by providing periodic updates on the rules and the focus of covenant enforcement.

Periodic newsletters or informational meetings provide an effective opportunity to educate members about their responsibilities, enforcement procedures, and to answer questions that members may have. Additionally, such informational sessions help not only set expectations but to help provide an understanding for homeowners as to why the covenants are important and how they benefit the entire community. Building trust and buy-in on the importance of the covenants is crucial to enforcing them effectively.

Be Consistent

The association’s covenant enforcement policy lays out the procedural requirements imposed on the association and members when a violation occurs. While it may appear simple, being consistent and following the proscribed procedures every time will go a long way. It will give members a clear understanding of what to expect when a violation does arise. Enforcement of covenants can often become an emotionally fraught issue. Ensuring that the relevant procedures are followed every time, regardless of who may be involved, will allow the association to operate in a fair and balanced manner. It will also reduce the likelihood of claims of inconsistent or selective enforcement.

Be Reasonable

The Board has a duty to do what is in the best interests of the association. Circumstances can arise where strict application of a certain rule can cause more harm than good. Sometimes members have reasonable explanations for violations that deserve consideration. The goal in covenant enforcement is to gain compliance voluntarily with as little conflict as possible. If a member needs a reasonable amount of additional time to correct a violation, it may be in the best interests of the community to grant it. If a member requests a hearing, even if they have missed the time frame to do so, give them a hearing and consider what they have to say. The best interests of the community are not always a cut-and-dry issue. Giving members every opportunity to be involved and heard will help to foster harmonious relationships.

For additional information on covenant enforcement in common interest communities, check out this article. Do you have questions regarding covenant enforcement or other legal matters impacting your community? Please contact one of our attorneys to discuss these matters. Orten Cavanagh Holmes & Hunt, LLC offers a full range of legal services for community associations. We strive to provide tailored, appropriate solutions informed by the objectives of your community, board, and management.


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