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Michigan HOA Lawyers Helping to Enforce HOA Bylaws
A homeowners association (HOA) is a community comprised of property owners who live in a specific residential neighborhood or condominium. The goal of an HOA is to ensure certain rules and regulations are enforced and common areas are well maintained. At Hirzel Law, PLC our Michigan HOA attorneys can help ensure that your HOA board is properly enforcing the HOA Bylaws.
The HOA board of directors of a homeowners association has a duty to enforce the HOA bylaws as written unless a legal justification exists for not doing so. The HOA Board of Directors must enforce the bylaws in a consistent and uniform manner.
In most cases, the HOA rules allow for the HOA to recover attorney’s fees and costs for having to take action to enforce the HOA bylaws. The Michigan HOA attorneys at Hirzel Law, PLC routinely assist Michigan homeowners associations with enforcing their bylaws.
How Can An HOA Enforce Rules?
HOA rules and regulations are put in place to keep the community in order and help maintain the overall value. A community that is governed by an HOA will have its own governing documents, which establish the following:
- The contractual relationship between the developer and community association
- The contractual relationship between each owner and the community association
- The contractual relationship between each of the owners
- A corporate governance structure for the community association
- A mechanism to impose assessments to fund community association operations
- A set of restrictions on property use that are intended to enhance property values and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community
Accordingly, enforcing the governing documents plays a major role in successfully operating a homeowners association.
Enforcing HOA rules and covenants is the responsibility of the HOA Board of Directors. The association must enforce the rules fairly. Below are some tips on how an HOA can enforce the rules and regulations within its community. However, please keep in mind that the remedies vary depending on the governing documents.
- Issue a warning: The issue may have been a meaningless mistake, but the first step would be to issue a warning. The warning should be in writing and include details of the violations.
- Imposing Fines: If a homeowner breaks a rule, they can face a monetary penalty. Imposing fines may be a consequence for non-compliance to HOA rules and regulations. However, fines are not an appropriate remedy for every bylaw violation
- Suspend Rights and Privilege: The HOA could suspend the homeowner’s rights and privileges if they violate the rules and regulations.
- Place a Lien: For violations involving non-payment of assessments or other damages, the HOA may be forced to place a lien on the homeowner’s property to secure payment. If the lien is not paid, the HOA may foreclose on the lien.
- Adopt A Bylaw Enforcement Policy: Enforcing the rules and regulation is not easy, and that is why the process could be made simpler by adopting a more streamlined procedure. We recommend a bylaw enforcement policy to ensure efficient enforcement of your bylaws. Contact your Hirzel Law HOA attorney before putting your plan into action so that you can make sure you are legally covered.
- Say No to Selective Enforcement: Ensure that uniform and equal enforcement is given throughout the entire community. As a member of the HOA board, it is your job to enforce the rules consistently and fairly.
What HOA Rules Are Unenforceable?
HOA rules and HOA covenants are sometimes used interchangeably. As a community member, you can find your HOA covenants within your association’s Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions (CC&Rs), which is also sometimes referred to as a Declaration or Deed Restrictions. These are what dictate the association’s and member’s obligations and rights. Both HOA rules and HOA covenants dictates what the homeowners, and HOA can and cannot do.
Both HOA covenants and rules are legally binding and enforceable. There are some exceptions to this statement, though. Some rules can be unenforceable. Rule are deemed unenforceable when they fall under one or more of the following categories:
- Illegality: Federal and state laws take priority over all the association’s governing documents. Therefore, when a rule violates the law, it becomes unenforceable.
- Enacted incorrectly: After purchasing your property, the rules and regulations within the HOA may change. It is not uncommon for an HOA to amend its governing documents. Many associations change or add to their rules. However, there is a proper way to enact the procedure within state laws and the association’s governing documents. If the HOA changes the rules or makes a new one without following the proper procedures, then it becomes unenforceable.
- Enforced inconsistently or selectively: If your HOA is not enforcing the rules equally and fairly or failing to follow the proper procedures and prerequisites when enforcing a rule, then there is a good chance that those rules are unenforceable. State laws and the HOA governing documents outline the procedural requirements that associations must comply with when enforcing HOA rules. When the requirements are not met or applied inconsistently, the homeowner can challenge the enforcement of the rule. Selective enforcement is an issue that many homeowners association face. Boards will apply a rule to one homeowner, but not another. However, HOA’s can combat selective enforcement though uniform enforcement of the HOA rules or through a well drafted anti-waiver clause in the governing documents.
How Can an HOA Attorney Enforce the Bylaws?
If a homeowner violates the rules or covenant, several actions may be taken. First, the HOA board may meet with the disputing parties to discuss the issue or send a warning letter. If an informal meeting or warning letter is not successful, then the board may start formal proceedings to resolve the dispute and enforce the rules and regulations.
After a violation is turned over to our firm, we typically start by sending a demand letter, unless there is an emergency that requires immediate court involvement. If the violation is not resolved, the most common method of enforcement is seeking an injunction to require the owner to comply with the HOA rules and regulations. The experienced Michigan HOA lawyers at Hirzel Law, PLC can help you take the correct steps to enforce rules and covenants while considering the rights of all involved parties.
Do Your Michigan HOA’s Documents Pass Muster?
One of the most common obstacles that homeowners associations face is that they often require legal assistance on a year-round basis. Frequently working with contracts and vendors can necessitate the help of a well-qualified lawyer who has years of experience working with Michigan’s HOA laws, which is why Hirzel Law, PLC offers a Premium Service Plan for homeowner associations.
The comprehensive Premium Service Plan from Hirzel Law, PLC allows representatives of homeowner associations to have peace of mind by providing them with consistent and ongoing legal services. Utilizing our Premium Service Plan unlocks benefits and resources that include:
- Preparation of an HOA Report Card to evaluate your governing documents
- Attendance at one board meeting a year, upon request of the board
- Review of any HOA Board Meeting minutes
- Access to our Online library of standardized condo and HOA forms
- Access to our Online collection portal to view the current status of your HOA collections
- Attendance for all board members to ask general questions
- Attendance for all board members at Hirzel Law webinars that are presented throughout the year
- Hirzel Law will serve as the Resident Agent for the condo or HOA, upon request of the board
- All board members will receive a copy of Hirzel’s Handbook: How to Operate a Michigan Condo or
Having an HOA lawyer that you can trust is necessary to the success of any association that deals with Michigan HOA laws. With our Premium Service Plan, you can trust that your HOA is protected throughout the entire year.
Contact Our HOA Lawyers for Help with Enforcing HOA Rules and Regulations
Enforcing HOA rules and regulations is not enjoyable for HOA Board Members, but it is necessary to keep a well-maintained community. At Hirzel Law, PLC, our Michigan HOA lawyers can help your HOA association review governing documents and enforce the bylaws. We stand by our clients, offering the highest quality legal representation and promptly responding to our clients’ needs.
Contact Hirzel Law online or call 248-986-2921 (Farmington) or 231-486-5600 (Traverse City) to see how our Michigan HOA attorneys can help enforce unenforceable HOA rules on your Michigan HOA’s behalf.