As an HOA board member, you may be faced with difficult challenges that come with maintaining an HOA community. It is in the boards best interest to serve their community and ensure that all governing documents are enforced according to their communities guidelines. In times when community members fail to live up to the standards required by the association, the HOA board of directors may be forced to execute an HOA violation letter.
Expecting your HOA community to be the perfect utopia would be far from normal; to come across a bad apple from time-to-time is quite common. Among the many expectations that come with being an HOA board member, your obligation to keep harmonious relations among community members should be top of the list. It is essential to provide your community with an equal and fair process of what constitutes an HOA violation — this includes a formal written procedure in regard to HOA violation letters. In the words of Warren Buffet,“Trust is like the air we breathe. When it’s present, nobody really notices. But when it’s absent, everybody notices.” When rules are consistently enforced, homeowners are more likely to abide by those rules.
To better help you and your community succeed, here are 5 key sources of information that you may find helpful when writing an HOA violation letter.
What is an HOA notice of violation?
The primary purpose of an HOA notice of violation is to educate and enforce the association’s rules and guidelines as outlined in their Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R). This includes consequences such as monetary fines that are noncompliant with your homeowners association. “Fines are one of the tools in the process; they are certainly not the end goal.” For example, an HOA member may be given a notice of violation due to numerous noise complaints from neighbors. Typically, an HOA violation letter will include information regarding the offense, a declaration stating the HOAs laws or rules that were violated, a compliance date, suggestions on how to solve the problem, a fine amount, and a contact person for any additional questions or concerns. Keep in mind that every state is different; what constitutes an HOA violation in one state may be different in another.
Why you need to write an HOA violation letter
It may seem crazy to think receiving an HOA violation notice serves a valuable purpose. An HOA violation letter is provided to the owner so that formal written documentation is provided for both parties; this includes a proper timeline to resolve the issue. The responsibility of the letter is to address the issue amicably, not necessarily attack the owner. In addition to this, providing a formal violation letter also exemplifies fair treatment among all community members. Unfortunately, not all faults are as simple as giving a slap on the wrist. Each violation should be taken into careful consideration regardless of the person’s status or relation that they may have to the HOA. It is with fair treatment and consistency that can help pave the road to a successful community.
How to write an HOA violation letter
Let’s start by discussing the process of receiving an HOA violation letter. Depending on the guidelines given by your HOA, most associations will aspire to find an easy solution among both parties. In this situation, an HOA will provide the homeowner with a warning violation notice that is mailed to the owner’s property. Here is where the owner is given a date to cure; this represents the amount of time provided to the owner to help rectify the issue. Keep in mind that the overall purpose of the warning is to help avoid the homeowner being given a fine. In contrast, if the violation has not been resolved after the date to cure has passed, the HOA may have the right to proceed with sending a formal violation letter that will discuss further steps and fines.
Here are 5 key points to writing a formal and friendly HOA violation letter
- State the purpose of the violation letter
- When stating the purpose, use a professional and cordial tone — especially when it comes to describing the violation. Be sure to reference and cite your CC&R with the violation being done by the homeowner. Use as much detail necessary so that the owner has a full understanding of why they are being given a violation letter.
- If available, provide any evidence that may be necessary. For example images, past warning letters, or a call log will all help show how the violation was addressed.
- Request necessary changes
- Provide suggestions on how the homeowner should proceed with helping resolve the issue. When a violation requires the owner to purchase a tool or item to help resolve the issue, consider providing more than one option that may be less cost-effective.
- Provide an appropriate time to make changes
- When providing a time frame, consider the amount of time that it may take to resolve the issue. Be fair and realistic — especially if the issue will require construction on the homeowners end. Depending on the severity of the issue, some violations can take as long as 30 days or more to resolve.
- Consult governing documents before sending the violation letter
- In all situations, be sure to reference your CC&R about any laws or guidelines that are necessary when sending your letter. For example, some communities may require an HOA violation letter to be delivered in person or by registered mail.
How to respond to an HOA violation letter
It’s one thing to receive a violation letter, but another when you’re the person sending it. We’re only human — having mixed emotions about sending your favorite neighbor a violation letter isn’t exactly easy. As a board member, you may find yourself having to divide friendships from business. In these situations, always be professional and remember that you’re only doing your job. Business is business — personal matters should stay at home.
On the contrary, being the person on the receiving end can definitely spark some flames. No one cares to open their mailbox to a violation letter. If you find yourself on the receiving end, it will be natural to feel a sense of resentment or sensitivity to the situation. You may find yourself questioning, “are they serious?” Before breaking war with your HOA, consider these pointers before responding back.
4 tips to respond to an HOA violation letter
- Rules are rules
- As an HOA community member, you were most likely given a set of community rules and guidelines. You may have even signed an agreement stating that you would oblige to all HOA laws as stated in your CC&R. These governing documents were put in place to protect you and your community. Be sure to review your HOA guidelines and governing documents so that you have a full understanding of the violation being committed.
- A violation letter is not an attack on you
- Your HOA board of directors was created for a purpose. When faced with a violation, the goal of the board is not to cause more stress on you, but more to help protect you and your community. It’s also a way to provide an awareness of the problem that may be occurring.
- There’s a process of receiving a violation letter
- Receiving a violation letter doesn’t necessarily mean that you are subject to a fine. As we mentioned before, there is a process of receiving a violation letter. For example: first comes a warning, then a second or even third violation if the problem is not resolved. When given a final violation, a hearing with your board of directors will usually take place.
- Disciplinary hearing
- Keep in mind that HOA homeowners are given rights to a disciplinary hearing before they are penalized. If a homeowner wishes to contest the violation, they may do so during the hearing. If a homeowner finds that they would like to provide an appeal letter to dispute the HOA violation notice, they may do so as well.
Templates of an HOA violation letter
TownSq has provided a free HOA violation letter for you to download, click here to get your free template. As an added resource, you may also be able to find free HOA violation letter templates from online websites such as wordexceltemplates.com. and Gogladly.com.