a HOPolaris’ Property Management’s software can help issue and track a HOA violation from complaints to a first warning through legal action (should it be necessary). Still, what’s most critical is the violation process that you build and uphold. We have a number of methods and ways to help do just that—and we use our technology along the way to help.
#1: Double Check for Legality
First and foremost, a lawyer should be looking at all HOA documents to make sure rules, violations, and related fines all comply with federal, state, and local laws. Of course, as the property manager, you should have your own working knowledge of HOA compliance, but the final approval should go through a legal professional.
Your attorney should be aware of the Indiana Homeowners Association Act and what it requires regarding written notices of violations, as well as legal actions that can be taken against residents, and the amount of time to remedy a violation or pay a fine.
To comply with the law, use your property management software solution to store templates your lawyer has approved for violation, warnings and notices, as well as notices of liens or legal actions. Send out notices from your software and then track them to ensure enough time is given to both residents and HOAs (more on that in step 4).
#2: Set Up a Formal Violation Process
To remain in compliance with the law, as well as the bylaws of each HOA where you own property, set up a process that’s consistent. To do that take the following steps.
- Set Up Consistent Procedures: Use your property management software to issue templated violation notices, as well as to schedule fine payments. HOA violations should never be arbitrary either in their timing or their consequences. Use your software to make sure your staff issues the same type of violation notice for the same type of violation every time.
- Establish a Fining System: Work with each board of directors to set up fines that are appropriate for each violation. Some state and local governments have laws outlining limits on HOA violation fines. Whether yours does or not, make sure fines are appropriate for the type of violation. A fine for the wrong type of flowers should not exceed the fee for destruction of pool equipment during a party, for example. You may also want to try and find out to make sure your fines are comparable with other community associations or HOAs in the area.
- Document Everything: Make all documents pertaining to HOA rules, bylaws, complaints, violations and processes available to all residents. Set up folders in the resident portal where residents can download everything they need.
#3: Automate HOA Violation Notices
Next, set up an automated system within your software that allows you to trigger a violation notice from either the office or your phone. Use it to issue warnings, fine notices, lien notices, and even notices of legal action.
Again, just make sure your lawyer has looked at and approved your notices and the manner through which you are sending them to residents. Polaris Property Management has attorneys that specialize in these areas for our landlords.
#4: Track Violations in Detail
Creating and sending violations via a mobile app allows property managers to keep HOAs running smoothly and our tenants and landlords out of trouble. But creating a violation is only half the battle.
As a property manager, it is your responsibility to create a report to track residents with violations and where they are in the process. Do you have residents with multiple outstanding violations where you need to consider a lien? What about first-time offenders who have just a few days left to remedy the situation or pay a fine? Do tenant’s violations impact the landlord and put them in legal jeopardy? Our property management team can help with all of these concerns.
If you have questions about how our property management team tracks and manages violations, as well as how long it takes to resolve violations across all our properties set up an appointment where we can share that information.
#5: Encourage Communication Through Portals
An important part of the process, too, is communication between you and your residents. Allow residents to contact you through a resident portal and add it to your tracking to make sure their questions and concerns are addressed. That is why we use Tenant Web by Rent Manager to communicate with our residents, and Owner Web for our landlords!
Through the resident portals, Polaris Property Management can also allow residents to pay their fines online. That makes it easier and quicker to collect money and resolve open violations. Our resident portal is mobile-friendly, which means residents can pay from anywhere, whenever it’s convenient for them, making it more likely they’ll meet their deadline.
#6: Educate Your Community
Of course, the best way to handle HOA violations is to never have to issue them in the first place. Our property management software can help with that, too.
Keeping the bylaws in a place that’s easily accessible means residents can always refer to them to make sure they’re in compliance, and board members can update them regularly.
Allowing communication via a resident center, whether it be email or text, can help us alert residents to changes in bylaws and answer any questions they may have. We can also discuss possible violations with residents before issuing a formal citation, if it’s something that they can fix easily.
Through our tracking, we can also look for trends in violations. Perhaps a particular non-owner resident has a history of noise violations, and it’s simply a matter of talking to the tenant once. Perhaps you’re seeing an uptick in landscaping violations across the entire community, and it’s time to go back to the board to review the bylaws.
Whatever it is, our software can help us pinpoint larger issues that we can address with residents or the HOA board of directors to keep violations from happening in the first place.
HOA violations are an essential part of property management and community associations. But we can make the process less challenging for our landlords and fairer for our residents by opening the lines of communication; making bylaws clear and accessible; and implementing a transparent process through your property management software.
Interested in learning about how property management can help you stay on top of violations? Schedule a time now to speak with Dan or one of our property management experts