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How to Deal with HOA Violations in Minneapolis, MN | Advice from Professional HOA Managers

Tom Sedlack - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A lot of people now live in HOA communities, and many people volunteer on their boards. Dealing with the occasional HOA violation is a fact of life. Today, we’re talking about how to handle violations and HOA management in Minneapolis.


Specific Rules and Regulations Are Required

Rules and regulations should be very specific and well-articulated, especially when talking about fines. Many times, HOAs will write poorly crafted fine structures or poorly crafted rules that allow for exceptions, or they aren’t specific, or they’re difficult to prove or enforce. Those are things the board has to reconcile. Be precise and specific with your language. When it comes to common violations with pets or parking, you need to spell out how long conduct can occur before a fine is assessed, and what kind of parameters need to be followed. The board must articulate those rules and get general consensus from the membership.


Escalating Fees for Minneapolis HOA Violations

Consider an escalating fine structure. Typically, this works best to accommodate violations. If you have a simple fine of $25 for pet violations, there’s little recourse for you once the fine has been paid. Even if you charge $25 per month for a pet violation, your homeowner may be willing to pay that. The escalating fine will work for the individual who makes an honest mistake and is willing to quickly comply, and it also works for the resident who is recalcitrant and determined to stay out of compliance. If you have an escalating fine structure that is $100 for the first offense, then doubles for the second offense, and doubles again for the third offense, you’re going to get to a person’s pain point a lot quicker.


Discussing Violations with Members

When you are articulating a violation to a member, always reference the specific section in the regulations that impacts the situation. It might be the declaration, bylaws, or rules and regulations. Reference the area so the homeowner knows what exactly the rules are and what needs to be done to correct the violation. Post the governing documents onto an owner portal. Then, everyone has the latest version and everyone can easily access them.


Applying Fee Payments

When you are collecting fines for a violation, always apply any payments to the fines first. Then, any balance can go to member dues or assessments. When you have an aggregation of fines that causes financial delinquency, the best way to pursue it will be as delinquent member dues. This allows you to put liens on the property, and pursue the delinquency per the state collection laws with regard to HOAs. It’s easier to collect for member dues than stand-alone fines.


Be Confidential and Professional

It’s also best not to disclose the names of individuals who are being fined. Keep their names out of public documents like minutes, newsletters, and other correspondence. You don’t want to open the door to harassment or ridicule by other board members or residents. This could create a disparity impact violation and also upset the harmony of your association. Make sure fines are applied equally. If the rules say one thing, stick with it. Don’t open your HOA up to fair housing complaints and litigation.


Fines for Noncompliance

Fines can be written for any noncompliance. Typically, the board will charge fines for specific violations of the rules and regulations. There might be pet violations architectural control issues, or parking fines. These are great, but you don’t know what can happen day to day, so have an all-encompassing fine structure for any violation. That gives you some power to enforce all of those additional rules. Have a sweeping overarching fine available for any material violation. Your HOA will be better for it, and you’re more able to control delinquent behavior.


HOA Manager and Attorney Review

Finally, have your bylaws and rules and regulations reviewed by an HOA Manager and an attorney, especially when you’re making changes. An experienced HOA manager can look at them and help you craft appropriate rules and fines based on experience. An attorney can see if they are legal. They’ll stick better and be more enforceable.


If you have any questions about HOA violations, or you’d like help with HOA management in Minneapolis, please contact us at 33rd Company Property Management.

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