What You Need to Know About Selective Enforcement


When enforcing the rules and regulations for an HOA, it’s the responsibility of the association’s board members to act fairly and follow a standardized process. This ensures that all homeowners are treated fairly and that the community’s rules are being followed properly.

If an HOA’s board were to show favoritism or inconsistency when it comes to how the rules are enforced, there would be negative ramifications for the entire community. In this article, we’ll cover what selective enforcement is, where it commonly arises, and how to avoid it.

What Is Selective Enforcement?

Whether you are a board member or a homeowner in a community run by an HOA, it’s important to know what selective enforcement is and how it can impact your community.

Selective enforcement is when a board is inconsistent with how they enforce the rules, meaning rules are being unfairly enforced throughout the community. This could result in some homeowners receiving violations for breaking a rule, while others are not when breaking the same rule. Understandably, this type of rule enforcement will bring conflict and frustration to the homeowners of your community.

Where Selective Enforcement Commonly Occurs

When it comes to an association’s rules and regulations, board members will find that some rules are harder to enforce than others. This makes selective enforcement a possibility, even for the most well-intentioned board member.

Here are some of the most common areas where selective enforcement can take place:

  • Parking Restrictions: Since it is difficult to enforce parking restrictions without around-the-clock security or cameras on every street, selective enforcement may easily occur when it comes to rules on how many vehicles, or what kind of vehicles, are permitted and how long a vehicle may remain in one area.
  • Pet Restrictions: Most communities will have rules when it comes to pets remaining on leashes and requirements that pets are properly picked up after. Unfortunately, most communities will also have an issue with these rules not being followed properly. When enforcing these rules, it’s important that extra care is taken. If a large breed dog is seen without a leash and the homeowner receives a violation, then a violation should be issued for any other unleashed dog – no matter their size.
  • Architectural Restrictions: If a board member enforced rules regarding architectural changes or improvements that are not listed in the governing documents for the association and were more based on the board member’s own opinion and taste, then this could be claimed as selective enforcement.

How to Avoid Selective Enforcement

Since selective enforcement could lead to hefty, potentially legal, consequences, it’s important that an association implements clear, easy-to-follow standards when it comes to rule enforcement. By setting rules around how rules can be enforced and how violations can be escalated, you can ensure that each homeowner is treated fairly and that there is no room for the possibility of selective enforcement on your board.

When setting these rules for your community, we recommend that you keep the following items in mind:

  • Implement rules that will ensure there is regular, open communication between the homeowner and the board. It’s important that board members keep the lines of communication open to address any and all concerns.
  • Obtain as much documentation as possible when issuing violations. Include pictures whenever possible.
  • Include rules that will standardize how rule enforcement is handled. For example, if an inspection needs to be completed, have set steps that must be followed when conducting the inspection, including any documentation that must take place.

By standardizing the rule enforcement process, you can ensure that each violation is being processed in the same manner and that rules are being enforced fairly.

For more information on the ethical responsibilities that board members face when taking on their role, we recommend trying out our course on Business Ethics & Professionalism.

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