By: Brindee Collins, Collins Law PLLC
Enforcement of the CC&Rs or the rules and regulations of a community association is one of the most important responsibilities of the board of directors and the management companies that are hired to help run an association. Despite its importance, it is one of the most difficult jobs, due to lack of proper enforcement tools, interpersonal conflict, mistakes in documentation, and differences of opinion. The question of how best to address violations and improve compliance in a neighborhood is one of the most common questions I am asked as a legal practitioner in this field. Over the years, I have noticed that associations with enforcement problems tend to have a number of things in common and that the following tips and tricks can help smooth the way for a better enforcement process, success in addressing violations, and avoiding conflict with homeowners.
Know Your Governing Documents
A board of directors and their manager must be intimately familiar with the terms of the governing documents of an Association, including the CC&Rs, the plat map, the rules and regulations, the articles of incorporation, and the bylaws. These documents are both the sources and the limits on the Association’s powers and responsibilities, and almost every enforcement issue revolves around the terms of these documents. In Idaho, restrictive covenants are viewed skeptically, as being contrary to the right to use property freely. Any restriction that is not clearly expressed in the terms of the governing documents will likely be considered unenforceable, so it is important to ensure that you have a good understanding of exactly what restrictions your association’s governing documents actually place on the land within the development, and that the language is drafted in a clear way, that is easy for everyone to understand, with no ambiguity. You can only enforce the language of the governing documents based upon its clear meaning, not based upon what you thought it meant or what you might wish it meant. It is also crucial that you be aware of any language that limits your right to enforce, such as required mediation or alternate dispute resolution clauses, which are becoming more and more common.
Thank You Sponsors