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Architectural Compliance: Actionable Ways to Improve Consistency

The main reason homeowners are attracted to association living is for the uniform and harmonious environment. Consistency with exterior enforcement makes for a well-rounded community, which will increase the overall architectural appeal of the community and maintain property values.  

Setting up a periodic review of the association’s rules and/or architectural guidelines will ensure your community’s regulations stay relevant over the years. For example, adding or modifying rules to include innovations like maintenance-free or low maintenance products could help the community by eliminating a routine maintenance item and offering long-term benefit to homeowners.

A few items to ask yourself when revising the rules are:

  • Is the rule reasonable?  
  • And more importantly, is the rule enforceable?

Do not leave room for interpretation; keep the rule simple and straightforward.

Take a rule that grants homeowners permission to have a bird feeder for example. The rule should read, “A home is permitted one bird feeder in the rear of their property,” not, “A bird feeder is permitted in close proximity in the rear of home.” Who will determine what close proximity means? Who will determine where it begins? Make it as easy as possible for owners to request an exterior improvement without getting too technical.  

Additionally, take every opportunity to properly and consistently communicate with the membership about the rules. This will reinforce the proper expectation and should concentrate on frequent violations found within the community. Offering solutions to remediate deficiencies is very helpful, too. Adding a “rules corner” to the community newsletter or electronic communication that includes the top five most frequent compliance issues found within the community should help decrease violations.

Remember that association members are your neighbors, and they would be more receptive to a friendly reminder rather than an official letter. By taking a consistent approach to architectural compliance, you’ll help make your community a more pleasant and beautiful place to live.

About the Author

Kristine Clancy, CMCA®, AMS®, is a Regional Director at Associa Mid-Atlantic, where she helps boards sustain sound financial plans while preserving and enhancing their communities. She started her career in property management in 2000 and joined the Associa family in 2006. Kristine previously served as the president of CAI New Jersey's Regional Council from 2009 to 2010 and is an active member of the CAI Pennsylvania and Delaware Valley Chapter's Membership Committee and Regional Council.

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