No one likes to be the "bad guy" when it comes to enforcing the rules. Even so, most California residents do it on a daily basis as parents, supervisors or others in positions of authority whose responsibility it is to make sure that others follow the rules.
Homeowners' association board members fall into this category as well. One of the things that makes this job difficult is that you also live in the same community with the people you may find yourself up against when it comes to enforcing the rules, covenants, conditions and restrictions, also called CC&R, by which everyone must abide.
It's an unpleasant, but important job
When you took the job as an HOA board member, you may not have fully understood why it's so important. Perhaps the following will help you understand why you may want to embrace this part of the job:
- Enforcing the rules "across the board" helps ensure that everyone in the community feels as though he or she received fair and equal treatment. Arbitrarily applying the rules could cause homeowners to wonder whether the board discriminates against certain members of the community.
- If the board allows the community's members to break the rules or pick and choose which ones they follow, it will more than likely cause tension and ill will amongst them.
- If community members feel as though the board is failing in this particular duty, it may take action to force the issue, which would only breed more discontent and distrust of the board.
- If everyone in the community knows that the board enforces the rules consistently and when needed, it could reduce the risk of legal action against the HOA and its board members. Fairness and equality go a long way to dispel the need for lawsuits.
When you took the job as a board member, you agreed that this would be part of your duties -- for better or worse. Perhaps the above provides you with a better understanding of why enforcing the rules is an integral part of your time as a board member. HOAs as a whole have a bad reputation due to some boards who fail in this area. Media coverage of disputes and lawsuits are not difficult to find here in California or elsewhere across the country.
You may even want to consider obtaining further guidance regarding how to apply the rules appropriately so that no one feels singled out or discriminated against. In addition, you may find yourself struggling to "clean up" after former board members who did not do well in this area.