Homeowners who aren’t happy with their HOA often cite inconsistent or changing policies as the reason. The fact is, it’s tough to create rules and policies that are perfect. You have heard the cliche “the devil’s in the details” – well in the case of HOA policies and rules this couldn’t be more true.

One of the of the primary responsibilities of the Board is to set policies and define rules to fit the unique character of their community. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when adopting policies and rules in your HOA.

Rules that target groups rather than behaviors.

It’s very tempting for a board to make a rule to fix the problem that is caused by those “Damn Renters” or that “Aggressive Dog Breed”. The problem with this approach is that regardless of the infraction, it’s the behavior that the problem. Policies built around appropriate behavior will result in more consistent and equal enforcement.

Policies that are difficult or impossible to enforce.

Not too long ago I sat in a meeting with a board who was discussing a parking policy. In the course of the meeting the board came up with some very specific rules prohibiting homeowners from parking in the visitor parking stalls. While on the surface this makes sense there was no reasonable way to determine what cars were residents or visitors. This type of policy makes it very difficult to be consistent.

Rules for uncommon problems

Most policies come about to solve problems that adversely affect the homeowners. But it’s important not to make a hasty rule to solve a rare issue. Before you make a new policy, first understand how common a problem is, and how the solution may affect the average homeowner. In some cases the solution may have unintended consequences and result in more trouble than it’s worth.

“know it all” attitude.

It’s pretty common for associations to set rules without even consulting an attorney or industry expert. Sometimes it’s to save money, but in many cases it is simply because we don’t know what we don’t know. Adopting a policy that violates federal or state law or even the CC&Rs can mean a lot of trouble for the HOA.

Board members should not be afraid to make or change policies but doing it the right way will give the association policies and rules that work, and provide the consistency that is needed for a peaceful community.

Burke Nielsen

Burke Nielsen

Founder and Account Manager at GoGladly
Burke is Gladly's top industry expert. After 12 years in portfolio management, Burke founded an HOA management firm, and has drawn from that experience to offer insider-level understanding to Gladly. One of Burke's rare charms is that he actually loves listening to your problems. His more traditional hobbies include camping, 4-wheeling, and spending time with his wife and 5 terrific kids,especially when he gets to nag them about homework (nag the kids, not his wife).
Burke Nielsen

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