In a recent news article, a Frisco area homeowner is up in arms after his homeowners association allegedly asked him to stain the ‘weathered’ shutters on his home. The association sent the owner a violation notice citing the need to maintain the shutters per a provision in the association’s covenants requiring owners to maintain their lot in a “clean, first class condition”. It is unclear whether there are other provisions of the covenants that address the maintenance obligations of owners.https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Frisco-Man-Says-HOA-Doesnt-Like-Shutters-Wants-Them-Changed-491661191.html
It is critical for associations to ensure, to the best of its ability, that owners are in compliance with the maintenance obligations set forth in the covenants. In fact, an association board could violate their fiduciary obligations to members by standing idle and ignoring the violation. Lack of enforcement may also present an issue when addressing future violations in the community.
The best practice for an association when sending a covenant violation matter, is to specify the portions of the governing documents that have been violated. In this case, more information is better than less. This means that the letter to the owner should contain as many potential references from the association’s governing documents substantiating how a specific maintenance obligation has not been fulfilled. Before sending out the letter, ask yourself the following:
- Would an average member of the community understand what provisions of the association’s covenants and rules have been violated?
- Does the letter clearly address what corrective action must be taken and a specific time period f or compliance?
At times, the association covenants may not be clear as to an owner’s maintenance obligations. To avoid any confusion, it is a good idea to have the association’s attorney prepare a maintenance chart specifying the various maintenance obligations for both the association and owners.