It is often said that the goal of any restriction or requirement contained in governing documents or rules in associations is voluntary compliance.  But what does that really mean and is it even possible?

If rules and restrictions are well-written, understandable, and relevant to a community we would hope that owners will voluntarily comply and follow the procedures, rules, etc., because they understand them and see the value and need for them in terms of having a well-managed community.  If this is your community’s goal you must first make sure that your rules, procedures, and restrictions are well-written, understandable and relevant to your community.  Below are 8 ways to do this:

  1. Educate and notify.  This means let your residents know what is expected of them and why certain behavior is necessary.  Education takes more than just copying the rules and putting them on your website.  It takes repetition and communication through as many avenues as possible.
  2. Gain consensus.  If you are considering new rules or even evaluating existing rules or restrictions in your declaration, seek resident input and consensus as to whether the rule or restriction is even necessary and valued by your residents.
  3. Review rules periodically.  This allows the rules to be reflective of community values which change with time and composition of residents.
  4. Be reasonable.  Rules that are reasonable are much more likely to be followed.
  5. Provide clear information of what is needed.  If your rules are ambiguous, residents may have differing interpretations of what is needed to comply.  Make sure rules are as specific as possible.
  6. Give residents an opportunity to comply and make it easy.  Warning letters and easy online submission of ARC requests make it easier to comply rather than continue to violate a rule.
  7. Be consistent and uniform.  If enforcement is necessary, treat all residents the same.  Singling out certain residents will lead to animosity and reason for those residents to not comply.  If everyone is treated the same, most residents will fall in line and comply voluntarily.
  8. Be flexible.  Along with being reasonable, being real and recognizing perfect compliance is the goal requires that you be flexible and work with each resident to achieve their voluntary compliance.

If you are talking about getting owners to voluntarily comply by paying assessments we would also suggest that you consider ways to may it easier such as automatic withdrawals, accepting credit cards, allow pre-payment, and if you have delinquency problems incentivizing people to come current can be very effective ways to get voluntarily payment rather than have to take legal action.

If you would like to have one of our attorneys review your rules to see if they are written to encourage voluntarily compliance, feel free to give us a call.

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