Homeowners’ association (HOA) committees are vital to the success of a community. They help board members fulfill their duties more efficiently while offering homeowners an easy way to get involved. A covenants committee is especially important because it’s tasked with maintaining the integrity of the association by overseeing the community’s Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), monitoring compliance, reporting violations, and more. It’s necessary to ensure this committee functions effectively to promote harmony and equality within the community. Read on to learn more about the covenants committee and committee member tips for improving its performance.
What Does a Covenants Committee Do?
In short, the covenants committee oversees the enforcement of the community’s CC&Rs. Legally binding, the CC&Rs are the HOA’s most important and comprehensive documents. They outline the rights of the board, association, and residents and include fee requirements, maintenance obligations, remodeling and development restrictions, and more. This committee also regularly reviews rules for accuracy and longevity and makes updates and changes as needed.
Tips for Your Covenants Committee
Though covenants are part of the rules—and can be restrictive—they provide many benefits to an association, including preserving the aesthetics of the area, protecting and enhancing home values, and maintaining the property of the association and its owners. It’s ensuring compliance with the rules that can often be difficult for board members or the committee charged with that responsibility.
While it’s a board member’s duty to enforce the rules, a covenants committee often reports violations to the board. Your governing documents may spell out your association’s specific rule enforcement procedures, but any association can protect both property values and homeowner relationships by handling violations well—or even preventing them. These six committee member tips help members communicate more effectively and improve overall performance as a committee.
1. Create and share the committee structure.
A committee leader can create a job description or structure that details the mission statement, goals, objectives, organization, communications, reporting requirements, and responsibilities of the covenants committee. Pay special attention to the responsibilities and clearly spell them out, so that committee members—and all homeowners—know what to expect.
2. Prepare a violations policy.
Committee members should prepare a policy explaining the process it will follow when a violation occurs. Because rule enforcement is the responsibility of the board, make sure the policy is reviewed and approved by the board before distributing it to all community members. That way, everyone knows what steps the committee will take to enforce the governing documents as well as possible consequences for continued violations.
3. Set up annual committee training.
The committee might set up an annual training to educate new committee members and remind committee leaders and members of their duties. In the training, explain how the association operates and how the committee, board, and management work together.
4. Know your role as a committee member.
It’s the board’s job to confirm that committee members understand their responsibilities and authority—and comply with it. It’s the committee member’s job to act within that scope. The board and committee members should understand and respect each other’s roles. Infringing on one another’s duties can create tension and stress within either group.
5. Clearly communicate relevant information.
As a committee, make sure you’re pointing out requirements specific to a request or adding disclaimers when necessary. Requests may include amendment consideration for a certain covenant, for example. And, a disclaimer may caution that approval from the committee does not release an applicant from or supersede any other review or requirement, like local government permits and approval.
6. Be fair and sensible when reporting violations to the board.
Follow the processes outlined in your committee’s guidelines and report violations to the board fairly and consistently. Hold everyone to the same standard and remember that no one is excluded from the rules, including board and committee members. Treat your neighbors equally and navigate all situations with an open mind and sensible actions.
Learn More About Community Covenants Enforcement
As a committee member and homeowner, it’s crucial to be well informed on your community’s covenants enforcement policy. While enforcement actions vary based on your covenants and state laws, you can generally expect the same process from one community to the next. Read our ebook, “The Quick Kit for Community Covenant Enforcement,” for enforcement best practices, an infographic explaining the covenant enforcement process, and much more.