Condo Association rules are always a thorny issue. On the one hand, people want to live without feeling like they have to walk on eggshells. On the other, there are often enough jerks out there who do obnoxious things that compel Boards to create rules to stop boorish behavior. A great example is pet rules. Most pet owners are fantastic people who clean up after their pets. There inevitably is always a subset, however, who feels it’s OK for their pet to defecate or urinate wherever it pleases, and they don’t clean up after them. This necessitates the creation of rules and enforcement measures to stop this behavior. However, rules are only useful if they can be enforced. This leads to the sticky issue of Condo Association rules enforcement. While there there are technologies that can assist enforcement, the reality is that for many enforcement activities, you need Owners to step up, and that’s a challenge.
Video cameras are a great way to capture rule-breaking behavior. They don’t lie, they can capture audio and visual, and they are fairly reliable sources of evidence. They are not foolproof, however. First, they need to be placed in the correct places for enforcement. You need the correct angles to ensure that you can clearly identify a violator’s face. You need to store enough of the footage to maintain evidence in case someone reports an issue. And perhaps most importantly, video cameras start to get expensive quickly. While they are critical for a variety of security actions, they are not a panacea. Where you do have them in place, they are an excellent tool to promote Condo Association rules enforcement.
Condo Association Staff
Staff are an important element of any Condo Association rules enforcement program. They can deter behavior where they are present – for example, a concierge in a lobby can take reports from Owners and can review video camera footage. Staff can also identify areas where rules are being broken – for example, identifying trash that isn’t disposed of properly in a trash room. Staff also are more likely to report breaking of rules, as they may not feel as shy as Owners, and you can also influence their behavior as they work for the Association. They cannot, however, be everywhere at once.
Owners are the Key
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that the vast majority of rules can only be enforced if Owners feel comfortable reporting the behavior. Your Management staff doesn’t have time to always be patrolling or watching the cameras – they have other jobs. The key is that you need to make Owners feel like reporting the behavior is a positive instead of a negative interaction.
First, make sure Owners understand why a rule is in place and why Condo Association rules enforcement is so important. If you have habitual offenders – whether it is pet waste, or people littering, or whatever – explain why this is bad for the community. Clarify that the purpose of the rule is not to collect fines or “get people in trouble,” but rather to deter a behavior that is negative for the Association as a whole.
Second, you need to make it clear that if Owners want to live in a community where a given behavior doesn’t occur, they need to be a part of it. If they don’t want garbage or pet waste to pile up, they need to report violators. You can encourage them to report the incidents anonymously if there is a camera present so the camera feed can be reviewed. If that’s not possible, ask them for specifics so you can reach out to the accused Owner. You don’t want to start a witch hunt, but on the other hand, if people are littering, they need to be called out. If you receive multiple reports of the same Owner causing problems, a written warning or Cease & Desist may be appropriate.
Focus on What’s Good for the Association
Having a good Condo Association rules enforcement program is important to having a clean and orderly Association. You don’t need to run around legislating every minute detail of Owners’ lives. But you do want to make sure you have a community that is free of trash, waste, and other undesirable behavior.