How To Properly Enforce Condominium Association Rules And Regulations
Posted Jun 30, 2020
By Washington State Business & Real Estate Lawyer Babak Shamsi
Increasingly, many property owners find themselves living in condominiums governed by associations. A condominium association typically has several governing documents that enumerate rights and responsibilities of the owners and the Board of Directors, such as a declaration, bylaws, and rules and regulations. One of the major aspects of community living consists of enforcement of the rules and regulations, which often affect the day to day activities of the owners in significant ways. As a result, an association’s ability to enforce reasonable rules and regulations is of paramount importance.
By statute, and unless otherwise contradicted in their governing documents, condominium associations generally have a right to enforce rules and regulations through their Board of Directors, and to collect reasonable fines for violations. However, any Board of Directors that seeks to enforce rules and regulations must follow procedural due process guidelines that include: (1) notice of the violation of the rules; (2) an opportunity for the cited owner to attend a hearing regarding the violation; (3) procedures in place to conduct the hearing; and (4) a previously published schedule of reasonable fines. Generally, condominium associations must provide their owners with a set of rules and regulations, as well as a fee schedule pertaining to violation of those rules and regulations, before they may enforce any of those rules or levy fines for violations thereof. Moreover, if a Board of Directors cites or fines an owner for violating the rules, the association must afford the owner an opportunity to be heard regarding the violation, to present evidence, and to review any adverse evidence.
In addition, an association must afford substantive due process to its owners. Association rules cannot be arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable, and courts will often impose a reasonableness test with regard to the enforceability of rules. Unfortunately, a reasonableness test often precludes the application of bright lines regarding whether rules may be enforced. Associations and their Boards must take great care to create rules reasonably tailored to the needs of their community and owners, and to impose fines for violations of those rules in a consistent, reasonable, and fair manner. Legal advice can be extremely helpful to associations that wish to establish fair and reasonable governance for community living.
Whether you a Board member trying to develop or enforce rules and regulations, or an owner resisting fines that you believe have been imposed without proper due process, the lawyers at Beresford Booth have extensive experience with real estate and condominium association issues, and we would be happy to assist you with your needs.
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