The Sun Is Out and So Are My Neighbors

By Evelyn Dufford, CMCA, PCAM

It always seems to amaze me, that June phenomenon called summer.  In the Pacific Northwest it’s an event that is anticipated for many months, much like a child at Christmas.  We look forward to the green grass and the warmth.  And the fresh air that comes in the house thru the open windows.  Wait a minute, where is that loud music coming from?  And why doesn’t my neighbor do something about the weeds?  Can’t he see that I’m working on the “Yard of the Month” award?

So summer has come and so have all the Homeowners Association issues that have been hibernating for the last seven months.  What do we do now?  This is the time we get the phone calls from our Board members asking what we can do about the loud music and the overgrown lawn.

The first place we as a community managers look at are the rules the Board has adopted and sent out to the community.  In the rules should be all of the Declarations protective covenants translated from legalese to everyday English.  And perhaps even a little more detail.  With it should be the penalties or fines that may be assessed to a person in violation. It also needs to have a procedure of how a member appeals the violation. This is called “due process”.

If you don’t have rules, the next place we look are the Association Declarations or CC&R’s.  Every association has them and they don’t get read as often as we would like. It has the “thou shalt” and the “thou shalt not” located in it. Hopefully they have something about the issue that the Board is trying to address.

Yes, even if all this things are in place, the rules still get broken.  What can we do to prevent them in the first place? Our answer is to communicate.  Newsletters and emails go a long way to remind members what the expectations of the Board are before the nasty grams or violation warnings hit the mail.  We like to start in the spring and let everyone know that the lawns are perking up and what can be done to help.  I have one Board member who took the position that most people didn’t know how to maintain a lawn the Northwest and needed landscaping tips.  Every quarter she would put in what you needed to do the coming months to keep the lawn in tip top shape.

I encourage you to go out and chat it up with the neighbors.  Start the communicating one on one. In the next installment I’ll talk more about rules and how to get them in place.  Feel free to email me with your questions at