If an owner is fined for a violation one month, then repeats the violation the
following month, can we go straight to a fine or does the hearing process start
Associations cannot discipline a member without due process
. The accused gets an opportunity to
contest each alleged violation. There is a difference, however, between repeat violations and continuing violations.
An example of a repeat
violation is where an owner violates a rule by letting his dog off the leash.
The board holds a hearing and fines him. The next month the owner's dog is off the leash again.
That requires another hearing and another fine. The following month he does it
again--a third hearing and another fine. The rules may allow for escalating
fines, $50, $75, $100, but each incident requires a notice, a hearing,
presentation of evidence, and a written decision.
. A continuing
violation is a single violation that persists. For example, If an association
limits owners to one dog of no more than 25 pounds (typical for dense condominium developments with
elevators) and an owner moves in with a 200-pound Mastiff (scary for people in narrow
hallways and tight elevators), the
board may impose a daily fine
against the owner until such time as the dog is removed from the property.
The board holds one hearing and imposes a continuing fine for the continuing
Carrot and Stick
. I like the carrot and
stick approach when using daily fines. The goal is to eliminate the violation
not to make money. Once the fine is levied, the board should simultaneously offer to waive the
fine if the owner complies within 30 days (or some other reasonable time period
set by the board). Offering to waive the fine encourages
compliance and eliminates trips to court. We include a provision for daily
fines in our documents and I recommend that boards update their documents to
allow for such fines.
Three Strikes Rule.
As a rule of thumb, boards should not impose more than three fines for the same
violation. Fines are imposed to deter bad behavior
. If three fines haven’t done the job, then fines are not going to work
and the board should take legal action
against the owner seeing injunctive relief
: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us
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