One of the most challenging aspects of effectively managing a condominium or homeowners association is dealing with board member turnover and, as a result, inconsistency in rule enforcement. When members decide to run, they often do so because they feel the current leadership is not doing a good job, including on rule enforcement. However, due to a board's failure to act, a newly elected board attempting to right the ship by enforcing the association's bylaws may find itself having to respond to selective enforcement defenses, and this creates a problem.
How can boards avoid the selective enforcement defense?
If your association is concerned whether it is interpreting or enforcing its rules and regulations properly, you should reach out to your association attorney and consult with your community manager.
Frank Simone is general counsel of KW Property Management & Consulting, a Miami-based property management company.
>>Read more about selective rules enforcement.
What actions should an association take to deal with problem tenants?
A homeowners association's covenants act as a contract with its owners. A tenant has no contract with the association. The tenant's contract is the lease with the owner or landlord. Any violation of the association's governing documents by the tenant has to be enforced by the association against the owner, who in turn must enforce the lease, assuming a violation of the governing documents is a breach of the lease.
There are several steps an association can take to combat this kind of bad behavior.
The association must carefully document complaints, notify an owner of his or her tenant's violations and demand that the landlord take prompt steps to correct them, conduct hearings, issue fines, and evict problem tenants if it has the authority to do so. Failure to take these steps could lead to a lawsuit against the association.
Judyann Lee is an attorney at McMillan Metro, P.C. in Potomac, Md.
>>Read more about handling troublesome tenants.
Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor, as well as websites, online newsletters, and email blasts, allow community associations to facilitate communication between homeowners, provide real-time updates, and give members the ability to offer instant feedback to the board.
At the same time, social media can be abused by users through practices such as cyberbullying, defamation, and invasion of privacy, says attorney Katrina Solomatina of Berding & Weil in Walnut Creek, Calif.
Adopting a social media policy can allow communities to assign responsibility over its use and minimize abusive practices, Solomatina notes.
It's important for communities to determine who will manage and update social media platforms, who will monitor and respond to comments, who can control or remove content, who can post, and what type of content is prohibited. Community associations should adopt a policy that covers the above.
When an association operates a closed group or discussion board, like Nextdoor, for residents, Solomatina recommends a user policy.
>>View the user policy terms.
—American Christmas Tree Association
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