There are several ways in which an association may efficiently enforce its governing documents without resorting to the expense and delay of prolonged court proceedings. Depending on the particular violation and on the provisions of the association’s governing documents, many violations can be managed effectively by using internal enforcement procedures (such as fines or suspension of rights) rather than litigation.

An association’s internal dispute resolution procedures are commonly referred to as a “meet and confer” session with a member, or the use of a more formal “alternative dispute resolution” process like arbitration or mediation. Establishing a record that demonstrates that the community association made reasonable efforts to obtain voluntary compliance before initiating litigation is likely to result in a more cordial judicial reception for the dispute and the association’s request for its costs and attorney fees. The two most important issues when dealing an association’s internal enforcement proceedings are: (1) confirmation of the validity of the particular covenant or rules that are the subject of the enforcement proceeding; and (2) the validity of the enforcement procedures that are utilized by the association.

An association’s governing documents should include provisions that authorize the imposition of monetary penalties, temporary suspensions of an owner’s membership rights, or other appropriate disciplines for a member’s failure to comply with the governing documents, as well as provisions for procedural due process in the imposition of member discipline. In addition, a homeowners association’s internal enforcement procedures should be clear and concise so that members can understand the process, and should provide for the following items:

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