I Got a Violation Letter!

By Evelyn Dufford, CMCA, PCAM

This summer we’ve been talking about rules and their enforcement.  Here at Association Services we’ve been working with our Boards to send the violation notices out and receiving calls.  Many calls, and they all have a similar theme.

So let’s talk about the other side of a violation letter, the recipient. One of the first things we hear is, “why am I being picked on?”  And I think this is a fair question, fair in the sense that very few of the members know what’s being sent out on any particular round of violation letters.  Our usual response to the caller is that they weren’t the only one that received a letter.  We let me know now that letters went to all members with similar violations.

The next thing we used to hear was, “The (fill the blank with your favorite violation) isn’t mine.”  And then we started to include a picture of the violation with the letters and that seems to help with those statements.

Another comment or question is about the other violations that are happening in the community.  Why isn’t the Board dealing with the yard down the street with knee high weeds or the vacant house with overgrown lawns?  I don’t think it’s appropriate to recap all the violations with the caller and we do talk about the Board limits of what they can and can’t do.  (We typically don’t discuss the art of ninja mowing with the members).

Then the conversation move on to what the member should do now.  Most of the time some agreement is made to correct the violation or an extension of time to get the violation handled.  Once in a while the caller will want to appeal and we are usually ready to schedule a time right then and there.  We encourage our Boards to deal with violation appeals before each Board meeting.  That way it’s a quick resolution to the issue.

I would like to encourage you as a Board member to consider addressing many of these questions before they happen.  This is where the use of newsletters or emails could help with letting the community know what’s happening.  We’ve even gone so far as to let the membership know what the focus of the month is going to be and the tally of violations from the previous month.  That way everyone is on the same page even if they choose to not participate until after they get the warning letter.

I encourage you to exchange curiosity for criticism.  Please send me your questions or comments at evelyd@associationserviceswa.com.  Next time I’ll be starting our fall focus on budgets. Stay tuned.