I just sent out an email newsletter explaining the processes available in HOAs and Condo Associations relating to dispute resolution and rule violation enforcement options. The E-Newsletter is available on my website in the E-News Archives (www.californiacondoguru.com).
I got some immediate response to it and here is one of the emails.
“Ms Grimm –
Thank you for your newsletters and blog; they’re interesting and informative reading.
Your newest newsletter featuring explanation of ADR and IDR was quite interesting … One feature about IDR/ADR not fully explained, unless I missed the idea: How appropriate is IDR or ADR for solving disputes (or perceived disputes) between neighbors??
Example that arose a few months ago: One owner inquired of HOA about whose responsibility it was to enforce HOA’s own architectural guideline about planting of trees too close (less than 6 feet) to “good neighbor” jointly owned fence. The second question regarded disease of the trees and asked who should check the status of the trees or notify the neighbor, as to whether it was possible that the disease could pass to other conifers in the neighborhood. Instead of answering the questions posed, the management company sent threatening letters to both homeowners that they had better accept IDR or face further action by the board.
Was that appropriate use of IDR?? Your newsletter indicated that the threat was not appropriate. Could you publish a clarification/amplification to your latest newsletter on whether IDR/ADR can be/should be used for neighbor disputes?? Thank you for your consideration.”
First, I want to say that the impetus of my latest E-news was not only to bring some information to light about IDR, ADR and Enforcement, it was also to start a movement to try and get associations to try IDR before sending threatening letters. My experience in dealing with HOAs and Condo Association boards and owners leads me to believe that a lot of the violations that occur are more likley to be resolved amicably if Boards practice more “IDR” first, before the letters start (because most owners want to know if they are doing something wrong before they get a threatening letter and most people are reasonable people).
I think its rather simple to set up an IDR meeting with a couple of board members who could meet with owners – and in a case like the above perhaps invite both owners in for an IDR meeting to discuss the issues and concerns before threatening either one. This could be a very informational process for boards and help resolve lots of different kinds of issues before they escalate.
I know I will hear from those board members who volunteer their time and prefer not to “get involved” with members because it takes more time and energy and sometimes leads to disaster because some people are obnoxious. And I think owners willing to serve on boards of HOAs and Condo Associations have kudos coming to them (for the most part).
But I will also say that I have seen many many situations escalate to the point of monopolizing the board’s time and energy that might have been nipped in the bud early on if the “climate” had not turned “hot” at the beginning.
You can learn more about all 3 processes by reading the E-news (which is free), or by checking out the enforcement Primers available on the website.