By Douglas S. MacGregor, J.D., M.S.W. and Rachel Brand
In general, community rules are intended to make everyone’s lives easier and more pleasant, to maintain property values and to create a positive community ambiance.
But there is often a neighbor who is unaware of the rules, or simply thinks they don’t apply to him. If you see your neighbor breaking the rules, what can you do?
How to file a complaint
Colorado law requires that associations adopt policies and procedures about enforcing covenants and rules. So first check your association’s policies and procedures for rule enforcement to see if there is a procedure for filing a complaint. If there is, go ahead and file one.
If not, start by sending a letter to the board. If you have a professional manager, send your note to the manager with a copy to the board, citing the rule you believe is being violated and how it is being violated. Be specific in your note – add dates, times and even photos, if possible.
If your community has no professional manager, be patient. The board members are volunteers and they have other responsibilities. They also may not understand that the association has a responsibility to enforce its rules and documents.
Whether there is a professional manager or not, be realistic. The association is not a police department; it may take a while to investigate your complaint and gain compliance. Also, board members may be talking to the violator first, rather than immediately issuing a covenant violation notice.
Occasionally an association simply refuses to enforce its rules. Your only recourse then is to bring a lawsuit.
For more information, see Colorado Revised Statutes § 38-33.3-209.5 and Colorado Community Association Law: Condominiums, Cooperatives, and Homeowners Associations, by Douglas S. MacGregor, J.D., M.S.W.