Over the past few weeks, I have been posting a series of blog entries outlining items that boards and managers of homeowners’ associations (“HOAs”) should add to their 2012 To Do List. One item that can be easily overlooked is the review and refinement of rules and regulations (“rules”).
Since boards have the fiduciary duty to enforce rules, it’s essential for boards to undertake a periodic review of their association’s rules. While it’s wise to work with legal counsel when reviewing and revising rules, here are a few areas of inquiry:
- Does the Rule fit your community?
As the years go by, the priorities and issues facing your HOA will change and evolve. This is also the case with rules. As the residents of your community change, so do the values and priorities of these individuals. For example, while at one time a size limitation on dogs may have fit the priorities of your community, you may now find the majority of residents have a completely different point of view. As a result, it is essential to have a finger on the pulse of your community when reviewing and updating rules. After all, in order for rules to be reasonable, the rules should fit your community. If the residents of your community disagree with a rule, this can be a recipe for an enforcement nightmare.
- Does the Rule make sense?
Rules should be clear, concise and understandable to the residents of your HOA. Residents of your community should be able to review a rule and easily understand what they need to do – or not to do – in order to be in compliance with the rule. Rules that are poorly written or vague can lead to a real enforcement headache.
- Does the Rule violate applicable laws or regulations?
There are numerous state and federal laws and regulations that impact HOAs in Colorado. Unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon to find rules that violate these laws and regulations. The installation of satellite dishes, clotheslines, political signs, solar panels, and evaporative coolers (just to name a few) are all regulated by state or federal law. It’s essential to work with legal counsel to ensure your rules do not violate applicable laws or regulations.
- Is the Rule enforceable?
When reviewing rules, it is essential to ask yourself whether the rule is enforceable. For instance, your HOA may have a speed limit in your community or parking garage. How does your HOA measure speed? Does your HOA have a radar detector that is utilized when determining whether a violation has occurred? What does a car moving at 15 mph look like versus 20 mph? How can you prove a violation actually occurred? Does it make more sense to install speed bumps as opposed to setting a speed limit? When determining whether your rules are enforceable, it’s essential to determine how it can be proven that a violation actually took place.
Undertaking the review and refinement of rules can seem like a daunting task. However, with the input of residents on the priorities of their community and the assistance of legal counsel – you will be able to create a set of rules that fit the priorities of your community, are necessary to protect property values, enhance livability in your community, are not over-reaching and are enforceable.