The staff or volunteers you may see occasionally walking around the community with clipboards or tablets are the homeowners association’s covenants enforcement officers. They’re inspecting the property to ensure that everything is working properly, that conditions are safe, and that nothing is reducing property values or the quality of life in your community.
The Enforcement Process
These volunteers are going door-to-door making sure policies and rules are being followed – from pet behavior, parking and unkempt lawns to improper exterior modifications and more. They field complaints from fellow homeowners and, if necessary, remind you (or your neighbor) when a rule has been overlooked.
The officers report their findings to the HOA board with photos and detailed notes. Most violations are easily resolved without Board action. If not, the next step is a hearing before the Board because it's important that owners can be heard. Those who continue to ignore rules may be fined, or worse. The most serious cases may end up in court, though homeowners associations should try very hard never to get to that point.
The Association’s covenants enforcement officers perform a vital function and should be treated with courtesy and respect. Their job isn’t to be a tattletale or an unreasonable bully. They should be fair, courteous, and have the best interest of the entire Association in mind.
If you have any questions about the rules in your community, the officers should be able to explain them. The Association manager and HOA board members are also happy to listen and respond to your concerns. The rules are there for a reason, but if you think a rule is unreasonable or not be addressed appropriately, then you have the right to voice your concerns.
HOA Rules and Legal Requirements
The Board has the responsibility to follow legal requirements to inform homeowners about any changes made to the rules and regulations. It’s helpful to send out reminders once in a while to keep the rules and regulations top of mind.
In California, it's required that any general HOA rules that apply to the Association have to be published to HOA members, and then members have to be given 30 days to review the amendments and provide any input they have.
After the 30 days, the Board will meet and consider any questions, concerns or comments from members and decide at that time whether or not to adopt the rule. Other states don’t require member review, so Board members would be left to consult the governing documents and each other.
If a Board is planning on revising the HOA Rules & Regulations there are some questions they should consider before doing so.
When you purchased your home in a common-interest community, you became contractually bound to abide by the covenants that protect the homeowners association. It’s important to review them and ensure you are in compliance.