Enforcing the Rules in Your Idaho HOA

Living in a homeowner’s association is becoming a common occurrence in Idaho, which presents a challenge for HOA Board members who volunteer their time and are placed in a position to enforce community rules.

Their lack of action or hesitation to act might be unsettling for those who take these rules literally.  If your Board doesn’t resolve a known violation of your community or appears to be avoiding and neglecting the problem, we recommend that you, first, become familiar with the duties and powers given to the Board within the community’s governing documents.  These documents are called the covenants, conditions and restrictions or what are commonly known as CCRs.  CCRs contain the language and description of the rules that all homeowners who had purchased property within your association must follow.

Typically, the governing documents give the HOA and the acting Board, the duty to enforce theses rules.  The actual power that your HOA has; however, are harder to predict.  Your CCRs are a legal set of conditions for all homeowners to follow, and they are legally binding and can be upheld in a court of law.  HOAs are given power to impose fines on homeowners for rule violations and can also levy assessments to pay for unforeseen maintenance or community property that has been damaged.  Since everyone shares in the use of their common amenities, HOAs must decide how to collectively manage and maintain them.  The HOA might also have the power to impose property liens on members who don’t abide by the rules.

Furthermore, some community’s governing documents make the enforcement of certain rules discretionary.  Discretionary is the power or right of the HOA Board to make official decisions using their reason and judgment to choose from among acceptable alternatives. This means that your Board might have a lot of leeway about whether, and how, it enforces a discretionary rule.

In either case, it’s difficult for a homeowner to make the HOA enforce a rule or regulation.  If it’s up to the discretion of your Board to determine what colors to paint your house, for example, and if the Board decides that this rule applies only to purple and yellow, you will be hard pressed to make the Board agree that the fire engine red color you like is against the regulation.

In a situation where the HOA has no enforcement powers, or the rule the homeowner desires the HOA to enforce is discretionary, one option for a homeowner might be to try to amend the governing documents.

Another option would be to hire a third-party association manager that can function as a mediator and has a deep understanding of how to govern an HOA.  A professional manager may be able to foresee issues before the enforcement escalates or to advise the HOA how to amend their CCRs to protect the association for further risks or liability.

According to Mike Madson, who has run MGM Association Management for the past 20 years, “I see many Idaho Board members who attempt to run for the Board, only to enforce a rule that has personally involved them.  Once they get their way, they fail to understand that there are certain procedures to governing an entire membership.  Many Board members lack the necessary skills to negotiate conflict or cannot handle addressing varying viewpoints.”

For more information on how to enforce your HOA rules or to get a better understanding of how to govern your HOA better, contact MGM at (208) 846-9189 or visit https://www.gomgm.com.