As an HOA manager, you walk a fine line. You need to enforce the rules, but you don’t want to alienate everyone. You need to stay professional, but your role demands friendliness. While it’s your job to point out when people are skirting the by-laws, you have to pull off HOA enforcement in a tactful way.

In other words, you’re expected to strike a perfect balance between Darth Vader and Mother Teresa (even more awkward than it sounds).

Rules are Rules

People who move into an HOA generally do so with some understanding of how it works. They know there are rules in place. They must be comfortable with those rules on some level, or they wouldn’t be moving in. After all, for their willingness to comply, they get some pretty nice perks.

The trouble arises when you get those select few who 1) think the rules don’t apply to them or 2) simply get complacent. Fortunately for you, most belong to the second group and only need friendly reminders. That first bunch, however, takes a little more finesse.

Don’t Forget Your Helmet and Cape

Often, people who break the rules simply need them clarified. Maybe communication has been a little remiss, or they were out of town and missed the memo on something. Maybe they got sick and couldn’t take their decorations down.

When giving warnings, be friendly, but be sure to follow your established procedures precisely in every case. You don’t need anyone crying foul over being treated differently than their neighbors. Rules are rules, but they’re the same for everyone.

Put Down Your Lightsaber

Keep warnings and negotiations rational and rule-focused. Where applicable, offer established grace periods or other considerations. Never resort to making things personal, and don’t take even willful disregard for the rules as a personal insult.

If someone has a logical problem with a rule, suggest it be brought up at the next meeting or note it down for future discussion. Some residents may make things more difficult than others, but no matter what else happens, keep things fair and diplomatic. And never forget your sense of humor.

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