Successful Enforcement of Covenants, Rules and Architectural Standards/Guidelines

Resource Topic: 
Litigation
Covenant/Rule Enforcement

I.   INTRODUCTION

A.     Community associations use covenants, rules, and architectural standards/guidelines to:

  • Maintain, preserve, enhance, and protect the property values and assets of the community
  • Promote harmonious community living 
  • Preserve the common scheme and harmonious design of the community

B.     Covenants and rules and their enforcement are essential for community associations for several reasons:

  • There is the need to create a sense of fairness and equity among residents (owners and tenants).
  • In contemporary society, people are more likely to question and challenge authority.
  • In cases where rules have been poorly developed or enforced, the courts are ruling against community associations.

C.     Authority to make and enforce rules rests with the board of directors of the association.  But the association manager is expected to

  • Give the board practical, technical, and administrative assistance in developing and enforcing covenants and rules
  • Maintain records which can furnish legal support if board actions in adopting or enforcing rules are challenged

II.   DEFINITIONS

A covenant affects the use and enjoyment of the property and is said to "run with the land" or "touch and concern" the property.  This means the covenant and the property are inseparable once the covenant is recorded, and all owners, present and future, are subject to the covenant.

A rule is a specific statement of required behavior whose violation carries a penalty (e.g., fine, suspension of voting rights, etc.) 

An architectural or design standard/guideline is a rule that applies to the appearance of an owner's lot or the exterior of his or her unit. 

III.   SCOPE OF COVENANTS (DEALING WITH USE RESTRICTIONS), RULES AND  ARCHITECTURAL STANDARDS/GUIDELINES
In a community association, covenants, rules and architectural standards/guidelines identify expected behavior, identify limitations and assist in the governance of the community in three areas.  These areas include:                   

A.     The use of both common property and individual lots or units.

Rules and architectural standards/guidelines are developed in this area to promote conformity and harmonious living.

B.     Changes in the architecture, the construction, or the appearance of lots or units.

Rules and architectural standards/guidelines are developed in this area in order to:

  • Establish and preserve a harmonious design for a community
  • Protect the value of the property

C.     The behavior of residents (owners and tenants), guests, and other visitors.

Rules are developed in this area because of the possible impact one person's behavior may have on other persons.

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