Maintaining the Enforceability of Fines in Your Community
The levying of fines against rule-breakers in the community is an effective tactic used by homeowner associations to curb misbehavior and to maintain a harmonious appearance within the community. In order to enforce and collect these fines, however, it is imperative that associations follow proper fining procedures as set out in the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (CCIOA), as well as any additional requirements that may be set forth in the Association's governing documents or policies.
CCIOA empowers associations to levy reasonable fines for violations of the declaration, bylaws, and rules and regulations, but only after the homeowner has been given notice and an opportunity to be heard. This means that before the fine can be applied to the homeowner's account, the homeowner must receive notice of the violation and a period of time in which he or she may request a hearing to determine the validity of the fine. A letter indicating merely that a fine has been assessed and that the homeowner may appeal the fine is not compliant with CCIOA. Consequently, fines assessed in that manner cannot be enforced or collected against the homeowner should the matter proceed to trial. Therefore, the preparation of a proper and enforceable fine structure and mechanism is important.
When a violation is made known to the Board, we recommend that the Board deliver a letter to the responsible owner that notifies them of the violation, the potential fine, and their opportunity to a hearing before the Board. The letter should state that the fine will be automatically assessed if the homeowner does not request a hearing within a set time period.