What to Ask When Writing a New HOA Rule
The well-being of the homeowner's association is one of the most important aspects of a board member's job. However, it is also one of the tougher aspects of an HOA board member's job, as there will almost always be a portion of the homeowners that do not agree with the rule changes or revisions. Luckily, you can avoid some of this hassle and divisiveness by taking a deeper dive into the rule's potential worth before implementing it. Here are some questions you should ask regarding the rule before you take steps to put it in place.
Is the New Rule or Policy Necessary for the Community?
When considering a new rule, this should always be the first question you ask. Often, new regulations come with costs and long-term repercussions that must be considered, and you may be able to achieve your goal more easily by amending an existing rule or just discussing your expectations with the residents in the neighborhood. If you choose the latter, you will demonstrate to the community that you are willing to work together to develop your community rather than relying on regulations. Here are some additional questions you can ask to learn more about whether the rule is necessary:
- Does the policy balance property values with homeowner freedoms?
- Does the rule have a specific goal in mind, or was it designed with personal preference?
- Was the rule pressured into existence by a political agenda or other reasons?
Is the New Rule Clear for Your Fellow Homeowners?
Most of the time, rules that get ignored are unclear and confusing. Keep in mind that new rules should work to foster homeowners' attempts at being good community members, not make it difficult with confusing regulations. Keep in mind what kind of resources may be needed for homeowners to follow this rule, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the policy written as clearly as possible?
- Does the rule make sense?
- Are we informing homeowners about the changes in advance?
- Did we request feedback from the homeowners before implementing the policy?
- Are we using all the channels at our disposal to inform homeowners of the rule change?
Is the New Rule Allowed by Current Laws?
Make sure the new rule doesn't cross the line of what your HOA can do. Read up on the governing documents, as well as local, state, and federal laws, if you aren't entirely sure about whether it adheres to the laws or not. To be safe, it's also good practice to have your management company look over the new rule.
Is the Rule Fair and Reasonable?
You have to make sure the rule is fair to all community members, not just a portion of them. For example, a homeowners association board is responsible to all of its community, not only a select few of them. Another reason to ensure that the new rule is entirely fair is that all HOA rules can be challenged in court. If a rule only targets or benefits a particular group of homeowners, the entire HOA may end up in hot water. If you're not entirely sure about the legality of your rule, don't hesitate to contact an attorney.
Can the New Rule be Easily Enforced?
Make sure you have proper enforcement protocols in mind for your new rule. If your HOA board can't easily enforce your rule, then chances are it will end up ignored. Evaluate what fees and fines could result from breaking the rule, and make sure there is a uniform enforcement strategy to prevent any accusations of favoritism. You also don't want a rule that will take a lot of time to enforce; else, it may simply not be feasible for your community.