As an HOA board member, you’re essential to the enforcement of rules and regulations, ensuring that everyone in the community follows the rules and regulations outlined in the association’s governing documents. After taking the necessary steps to encourage homeowner compliance with the documents, when all else fails, there’s the possibility to seek injunctive relief, if allowed by state law and your association’s governing documents.
Navigating the complex legal system around HOA injunctions can be challenging, especially as a volunteer board member. It’s crucial to understand the proper procedures when considering injunctive relief to enforce the association’s rules, so it’s important to refer to your state’s specific laws and association’s governing documents for the specific steps to take. In this article, we’ll break down what HOA injunctions are and what their general process looks like.
Injunctions are court orders that tell someone what they must do or not do. HOAs can use an injunction to enforce governing documents compliance or stop nuisances, ultimately in the effort to uphold their obligation to maintain the community and safeguard property values. When requesting an injunction, board members must follow proper procedures and act within the scope of their authority. Additionally, board members should be aware of the potential costs and damages associated with pursuing injunctive relief.
Should You Seek Injunctive Relief?
Injunctive relief for community associations is usually sought for noncompliance of governing documents, nuisances, and threats to property values. For example, an HOA may seek injunctive relief to stop a homeowner from continuing to operate a commercial business on property, which violates the governing documents.
However, there are some steps to be taken before pursuing an injunction. While exact procedures may vary from state to state, association to association, the general process for seeking an injunction is as follows:
- First, document the violation and notify the homeowner in writing.
- Then, a follow-up notice should be sent if the violation persists that informs the homeowners that the HOA may seek injunctive relief if the issue isn’t rectified.
- If the infraction continues, the HOA board should consult its attorney to discuss if an injunction is the right decision for the situation.
Aside from injunctive relief, board members have other legal options to address noncompliance, such as fines and privilege suspensions. However, for frequent and unresolving issues, obtaining an injunction may be the best course of action for ensuring compliance with the governing documents. While fees and revoking privileges might not be sufficient to act as a deterrent, injunctive relief may be an effective solution for the specific situation.
Prohibitory vs. Mandatory Injunctions
The distinction between prohibitory and mandatory injunctions must be understood when seeking injunctive relief. While mandatory injunctions demand that a homeowner take a certain action, prohibitive injunctions forbid them from doing something.
For example, the HOA could pursue a mandatory injunction to require a homeowner to remove a noncompliant addition to their property. On the other hand, an HOA could seek a prohibitory injunction to stop a homeowner from parking a commercial vehicle in their driveway.
Phases of Injunctive Relief
Three phases are involved in the process of HOA injunctive relief: temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and permanent injunction.
First, a temporary restraining order is issued after the offending party is noticed and the written declarations are submitted to the court. This stops the challenged conduct for a brief period until a full hearing can be arranged and held on the issue.
Next, a preliminary injunction follows two to four weeks later, which offers instant relief from the claimed misconduct and lasts longer than a temporary restraining order. Only when the requesting party is likely to win at trial, and has enough evidence to support their claim, is this injunction granted.
Lastly, a permanent injunction may be issued after a full trial where both sides have provided evidence to support their claims. This mandates a party not to engage in a particular action or conduct going forward, resulting in potential fines or jail time if violated.
Tips for Seeking HOA Injunctions
The injunctive relief process can be challenging and time-consuming, but there are some best practices that board members can follow to help the process go smoother.
- Follow proper procedure. Board members should be familiar with the HOA governing documents and how to enforce them, as well as how to pursue an injunction, if needed.
- Document noncompliance issues. All instances surrounding noncompliance should be documented and noticed to the homeowner in writing.
- Consult with legal counsel. The HOA’s attorney can advise if injunctive relief is necessary and can assist with the legal process.
Navigating the legal landscape of HOAs can be complex and overwhelming, but educating your board and homeowners can help reduce liability and misunderstandings. Check out our forever free Director Crash Course to jumpstart your board member education, and register to be the first to know when our new Homeowner Course launches!