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Keys to Successful Condo and HOA Policy Resolutions

December 6, 2017

All condo and homeowners association boards meet to make decisions on behalf of their communities. Sometimes, those decisions need to be formalized as a policy resolution when issues generate conflict within the neighborhood.

Beyond just suggesting new rules, Condo and HOA policy resolutions can dramatically impact residents' responsibilities and rights.

While a few owners may not like the new rules, it is the board's responsibility to act in the best of interest of the community and make such decisions when necessary. However, when introducing policy resolutions, it's important for boards to take certain steps towards ensuring they can create successful policy resolutions.

What you will learn:

Examples of Condo and HOA Policy Resolutions.

Creating policy resolutions is such a sensitive task. Here are a few examples of the types of decisions these documents can formalize:

  • How homeowners can use their property: a resolution might restrict homeowners from using their home to run a business or from parking commercially marked cars on the street.
  • How homeowners maintain their property: some associations restrict colors for house paint or require trees and flowerbeds.
  • How boards can enforce policies: boards might create resolutions about levying fines, sending out warning letters, and so on.

Creating Successful Condo and HOA Policy Resolutions.

Procedures for creating policy resolutions may vary. However, the process should always:

  1. Promote careful consideration of the problem
  2. Request input from various stakeholders
  3. Provide timely notice

For instance, some bylaws may void resolutions if the board and homeowners don't have get notice.

Certainly, in the name of transparency, boards need to have a mechanism for communicating any important policy decisions that they are considering before conducting a vote. Only the board may vote to pass resolutions, but input from homeowners can improve perspective and help avoid pitfalls.

The Importance of Enforceable and Sensible Resolutions.

Some policy resolutions might seem beneficial but are also difficult to enforce or even interpret.

For example, neighbors may complain that one homeowner is running a retail business out of their garage. Customers are now taking up parking spaces and causing traffic in the neighborhood. Some parents might even have safety concerns because of strangers on the street and might file complaints to the board.

While a board might restrict in-home businesses, some business owners work quietly at home and would rather not give up that right.

A more focused resolution could tackle the problem instead of implementing blanket restrictions. Perhaps the board could pass a resolution prohibiting multiple customers, not businesses as a whole.

Tailoring policy resolutions that resolve conflicts takes careful thought from the board and genuine input from community members.

Standard Policy Formats.

Condo or HOA boards should adopt a standard format for policy resolutions. The Community Associations Institute has a sample with these sections:

1. BOARD AUTHORITY: the board states the authority they have to pass the resolution. Typically, this comes from a section of the association bylaws.

REASON: the board outlines the reasoning behind the decision.

INTENT & SCOPE: the board states exactly who the policy applies to, the nature of warnings & penalties for breaking the policy.

SPECIFICATIONS: this section should clearly state the rules. Residents will know what they can and cannot do to stay compliant.

Successful Condo and HOA Policy Resolutions Hold the Key to Good Governance.

Policy resolutions can help resolve problems and conflicts. However, they can't succeed without homeowner acceptance and association enforceability. Boards should clearly define problems, seek input and then define solutions that minimize conflict as much as possible. 

Keep in mind, after a resolution passes, it needs to be documented in a standard format! Oh, and if you prefer not to keep up with the risk management headache involving your communities, let a local, pro-active community association adviser help!



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