By: Andrea Dunn
The Association has the power to fine a unit owner for violating the rules. So, it’s okay to send a note telling them and adding the fine to their account? NO. NO. NO. To quote a phrase from the movie, Mr. Mom, “You’re doing it Wrong”. Doing it wrong can cause a great deal of strife for a Board of Directors, and can cost the Association lots of money. So, let’s go over the procedure that must be followed to issue a fine properly, according to the Common Interest Ownership Act.
Felix Unger lives in a condominium with assigned parking spaces. He continually blocks his neighbor’s, Oscar Madison, parking spot. The property manager has already sent two letters informing Felix of the rule violation. Felix has continued blocking Oscar’s parking spot. The Bylaws allow the Board of Directors to fine up to $50.00 per day for any rule violations. It is clear that a fine needs to be imposed upon Felix to try and encourage his compliance with the rules. Remember, the purpose of the ability to fine is not to make extra money for the association. It is to get unit owners in compliance with the rules.
You might think that a fine can simply be issued to Felix and added to his account, but this is not correct. If you wish to impose a fine, you must follow procedure. What is the procedure? Keep reading.
First, a notice must be sent to Felix with a date asking him to come to a hearing before the Board. The notice MUST contain the following information:
- What rule Felix has violated. For example, “On May 1, 5, and 10 of this year, your vehicle was parked in such a manner that it blocked Unit 10’s car and prevented Unit 10 from moving his vehicle in any way. Rule 1(a) states: Parking spaces are assigned and no unit may use or block access to any other spot”.
- The date, time and location of the hearing. YOU MUST GIVE FELIX 10 BUSINESS DAYS NOTICE PRIOR TO THE HEARING DATE. This is critical.
- Let Felix know his rights: the hearing is an opportunity to be heard by the board of directors, if the association’s attorney is going to be present, that he has the right to have an attorney present as well as any witnesses, he can provide an oral or written statement, the Board will consider, but not be bound by, his evidence.
- Let Felix Know what will happen after the hearing: he will get a written decision within 30 days, and the decision could include fines and/or any other remedy available pursuant to law, the declaration, bylaws and rules and regulations of the association. Any failure to attend will not affect the ability of the Board to make a decision.
It is a good idea to send this notice via both regular and certified mail to ensure that Felix receives it.
Part 2 will cover the hearing and aftermath.