HOA Homefront: Recipe for reasonable rules – Orange County Register

One important board responsibility is to adopt and enforce community rules.  Developers, when creating common interest communities, provide CC&Rs and bylaws (usually boilerplate), but typically do not create rules. So, it is up to the volunteer boards to create necessary and reasonable rules for their communities.

Rules can cover many important topics, such as parking, community room use or architectural and landscaping standards. Rules should be tailored to the needs of each community.  However, civil code does require each association to have certain rules.  These required rules are: internal dispute resolution procedures, election rules, delinquency enforcement policies, architectural modification application rules and a schedule of fines.

Rules must be written, per Civil Code 4350(a). From time to time, an association will describe to me “house rules” but cannot point to any place where the particular rule is written.  Unwritten rules are traditions, not rules, and are unenforceable.  Also, rules must be adopted per the process in Civil Code 4360.

Keep it simple. Draft rules in straightforward language. Rules should be clear and concise. Avoid overly complex rules, because most likely the manager, board and homeowners will not remember all the technicalities in a complicated rule set.

Consider starting each rule section with a positive introductory statement. Beginning a section of rules with a short explanation about the purpose of the rules makes a more positive statement to the community, and hopefully, increases community compliance by the residents.  People do not like being told “because I said so”, regardless of age, and explaining the importance of the rules shows respect.

Avoid having separate rules for kids.  Rules cannot single out children for treatment different than adults, because that violates current fair housing laws. Some day, perhaps, the law will allow reasonable safety standards to be applied to children, but presently,…

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