The Path to Compliance: Community Standards
HOA standards are a measure put in place to maintain the beauty and quality of the community at large. Homeowners agree to these standards when they purchase their new homes but over time can forget what needs to be done to stay in compliance. Getting your residents to comply with HOA standards does not have to be a difficult task, if done the right way a potentially contentious situation can be turned into a positive exchange with productive results.
“We have seen that educating our homeowners about how to maintain their property to the community standards greatly decreases the chances they will receive a violation letter.” Education can be done in many forms ranging from flyers and posters to seminars. Harrier cites his experience using education as a tool in a community battling chinch bugs. “Once we noticed there was a problem, we immediately got information out to the homeowners to make them aware of the situation. Additionally, we set up a page on the community website where people could visit if they had any questions on prevention or what to do if they were effected.” This type of education and proactive communication brought the situation to the resident’s attention and painted it as a challenge for the entire community, creating a sense of unity among the homeowners. This type of mentality tends to curb finger pointing and increases the understanding that the board and the management company are aware that many owners are having this issue and are working together on the solution. Whereas, if individual letters were sent out to owners about the quality of their yard, these owners may have felt singled out or angry, thinking that they were the only one identified with the problem.
Proper education allows us to proactively address and/or prevent any compliance issues. Providing information on: how to prevent the most common violations, typical warning signs, and easy but effective ways to keep a property up to the community’s standards are non-intrusive ways to remind people of how their property should look. Harrier states that, “Sending out information to all of your homeowners at the beginning of the spring about the proper way to maintain their lawn is a great way to get the issue front and center without singling anyone out. It is the community’s way of gently reminding people that we are going to be taking a close look at your lawns, follow these steps and you will be fine.”
When it comes to association standards, good communication is key. Without proper and effective communication, the board and the management company will not be able set the overall tone as to how the association’s rules are going to be enforced. Make sure the standards are communicated clearly to the residents (in many different ways). People are busy and sometimes forget the standards; the easier you can make it for them to understand how to do their part, the less violations will need to be issued. Making sure people know the standards as well as what steps the community will take when they are out of compliance will prevent many headaches for the board and the homeowner. At Leland we offer courses for our communities on topics related to their specific community standards. Not only is this a great way to get to know the residents, but it is an excellent way to spread the word about how to keep the community pristine.
Compliance with community standards does not have to be a challenge. For the most part homeowners chose to reside in an association because they want the benefit of living in a nice community with standards. With proper education and the ability to distribute information effectively, people will not only understand the requirements but will be encouraged to keep up with their property, resulting in an amicable relationship between the board, the management company and the residents.