So you got an HOA violation. Life happens, stuff breaks, you forgot or didn’t notice that shrub that needed to be trimmed and now you have what feels like a nasty-gram in your mailbox. What’s next? Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with HOA violations:
Why didn’t management or the Board just call me?
Great question. A call is so much more personal. But: HOA Violations in Colorado legally must be mailed – not emailed, or called in. This is to ensure that A) delivery is tracked and B) all residents are treated equally. This goes for everyone in the community, including Board and Committee Members. So, while a phone call has more of a human touch, the state has decided to normalize the process for all HOAs.
Will I be fined by the HOA?
It depends. Generally, the first violation is a just a request to correct and will not carry a fine. Every HOA has their own fine schedule tied to the governing documents – most often the Declaration for the community or a Rules and Regulation document. While homeowners always have a period of time to correct a violation, some violations carry fines for repeat offenses. Rule enforcement is primarily for compliance and CAP Management does not recommend HOAs count on fines as income for the HOA – only as an enforcement tool. HOAs shouldn’t use the rules to nickel and dime their residents.
I feel like I’m being watched. Who is sending these violations?
Violations can be observed by the Board, a neighbor, the property manager, or a compliance officer. CAP Management primarily uses a compliance officer to inspect the property on a regular basis on behalf of the Board. Reports are taken, but CAP and your HOA are not in the business of facilitating neighbor to neighbor disputes – if two parties have a dispute (“well their yard looks worse than mine!”), then we will work with the Board to ensure that reporting is not being abused or misused. Our compliance officer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. All violations are then vetted by the Board to ensure that proper rules are being applied.
Are there pictures of the violations?
Yes. Pictures should be taken whenever possible so everyone is on the same page. While pictures are not included in the letters, they are available on the homeowner websites. You can always request a picture, letter, or copy of the rules and regulations for your community on your account at www.capmanagement.com/owners.
I have a violation, what next?
First, correct the violation. Most HOAs simply want to maintain the property aesthetic within the rules.
Understandably, homeowners often want fines waived after correcting the violation. Fines cannot be negotiated or waived by management as they are imposed by the board and the HOA. Homeowners can, however, request a hearing to appeal a violation and/or fine during a board meeting. Make sure you review your HOA’s governance policies – these policies lay out exactly how the HOA must run their compliance and enforcement. The more prepared you are, the more likely you will have a chance of success with the Board.
The best way to avoid a violation is to make sure you are in compliance by reading your community’s governing documents. If you receive a violation, remember, it is not personal. After all, many people choose to live in an HOA for the cleanliness and clear expectations around the aesthetics of the property. Not following the rules in a way breaks a covenant with your neighbors and the community at large. Most importantly, if you do not like the rules in the community, homeowners may be able to lobby to amend them by running for the Board – HOAs are democratically administrated and in most cases, any homeowner in the community who is in good standing with the HOA is eligible!