There’s No Witness Protection Program in Community Associations
Before seeking to enforce rule violations, the board must insist that complaints be submitted in writing and contain the date, signature, address, and phone number of the person filing the complaint. Implementing this type of policy for complaints serves several purposes. First, it will eliminate petty issues because the person making the complaint will not want to sign their name and identify themselves every time they see their neighbors commit a minor rule infraction. More importantly, by requiring written complaints, the board will also minimize the chance of being wrongfully accused of overly aggressive enforcement, harassment, or selective or discriminatory enforcement. Finally, if the violation cannot be resolved through neighborly discussion, the accused ultimately has a right to know the accuser in the event of an enforcement assessment hearing. Therefore, the board should make a written complaint form available as part of its handbook, welcome packet, and on the association’s website. This written complaint form should require details including: the nature of the complaint; date(s) of the violation(s); prior attempts to resolve the problem; and identifying information for the person filing the complaint (name, signature, address, and phone number).
For more detailed information on proper rule enforcement, board members and property managers of Kaman & Cusimano service option clients may access our Enforcement of Rules Seminar Booklet that includes a sample written complaint form on the Association Total Legal Assistance System (ATLAS) under “Sample Forms.”