So a homeowner has requested a hearing, now what? Violation hearings are stressful things for Board Members and homeowners alike. They can be the most contentious meetings in an HOA. So what can you do to prepare? Here’s a few tips to help you run a smooth and effective violation hearing.
- Put together the hearing panel. Check the governing documents for your community to see if they specifically state who the hearing panel should be. If it isn’t mentioned anywhere, then the Board may act as the hearing panel.
- Give proper notice. Review the governing documents and state statutes to ensure you give proper notice to the homeowner. In the notice of hearing you should include where and when the hearing will take place and a summary of the issue that will be addressed.
- Prepare for the hearing. Compile all the documents that have come in regarding the issue at hand. Include emails, architectural requests and responses, pictures, written letters, pertinent sections of the CC&Rs, and any other correspondence regarding the matter. These will all be important to have on hand for effective discussion at the hearing.
- Check the governing documents for hearing procedure. Hearings can be informal but sometimes, a specific hearing procedure is spelled out in the governing documents. Be sure to check if there is a provision for hearing procedure in your community’s governing documents. If there is, you’ll need to follow it.
- Conduct the hearing. Hearings are stressful for both parties, but by offering these bits of good advice, you can help the Board handle them professionally.
- Be civil. Remember, the resident in question is part of the community and your neighbor. While it is important to follow the HOA rules, it is also important to be respectful to your neighbors.
- Make sure you have a quorum at the hearing. If a decision needs to be made, it is important to have a quorum present.
- Be reasonable and stick to the facts. The hearing panel should open with the violation in question and then state the rule that the homeowner violated. Then the homeowner should have time to present their side of the story. If there are questions on either side, allow for them to be asked and answered.
- Make a decision based on the facts presented. It isn’t required that the Board make a decision right at the hearing, but there may be a timeframe In which they must make it. Check the governing documents for this.
Violation hearings are not easy or fun, but by keeping it calm and collected, a logical and legal decision can be made.