Property owners can lose potential resale value due to the behaviors or questionable aesthetic decisions of their neighbors. Homeowner associations (HOAs) serve the critical role of establishing and enforcing standards within a community.
From preventing loud parties late at night to addressing the accumulation of debris that might attract wild animals, the rules of an HOA enhance the quality of life and property values of the residents within the community by creating uniform standards and expectations.
However, some HOA boards don’t take enforcement action against minor infractions, and that could be a mistake that results in major issues later for the community.
Why some HOA boards don’t aggressively enforce rules
Maintaining a positive relationship with community members is critical for the success of an HOA. Board members may feel like they can allow a few minor infractions from certain property owners who are otherwise in good standing with the community and the HOA itself.
Board members may choose to turn a blind eye to minor issues like grass that is just slightly too long. Unfortunately, if an HOA doesn’t take timely enforcement action on any infraction equally, the association runs the risk of diminishing their authority to enforce rules, especially if a rule has previously gone unenforced but needs to be enforced now.
Picking and choosing when to enforce rules could lead to claims of discrimination
There are multiple ways that homeowners can push back against an HOA’s efforts to enforce its own rules for the community, and one is by alleging discriminatory enforcement practices. Utah HOAs have the right to establish rules under state law, but the HOA cannot enforce rules in a discriminatory way that privileges certain homeowners over others. If a court sees evidence of uneven enforcement, the court may side with the homeowner instead of the HOA.
Unequal enforcement can diminish the board’s ability to protect the community’s interests
If an HOA wants community members to respect and voluntarily comply with the rules, timely and uniform enforcement is of the utmost importance.
Once people in a community begin to believe that they can avoid enforcement if they curry favor with certain members of the HOA, the board may have a harder time eliciting the respect and cooperation they need to protect the general interest of the community.