When an HOA member fails to pay their assessment or violates the CC&Rs, how does the board respond? For past due assessments the HOA has the standard collection processes, and for CC&R violations the board has standard enforcement processes. What if these standard processes are not enough to force the member to bring their account current or to force CC&R compliance?
Another alternative to use in conjunction with the standard compliance processes is to revoke or suspend a member’s HOA privileges. To determine whether the HOA has the ability to suspend a member’s privileges, the HOA’s bylaws are the first governing document to review. The heading or wording may vary from the bylaws of one HOA to another; however, “Member in Good Standing,” is probably the most utilized term. For example:
Section 4.1. MEMBER IN GOOD STANDING. A Member shall be considered to be a “Member in Good Standing” if such Member:
- Has, at least ten days prior to the taking of any vote by the Association, fully paid all Assessments or other charges levied by the Association, as such Assessments or charges are provided for hereunder;
- Is not in litigation with the association;
- Has discharged all other obligations to the Association as may be required of Members hereunder or under the Association Documents.
The Board shall have sole authority for determining the good standing status of any Member at any time and shall make such determination with respect to all Members prior to a vote being taken by the Association on any matter. The Board shall have the right and authority, in its sole discretion, to waive the ten-day prior payment requirement if extenuating circumstances exist. Any Member not conforming with the provisions of this Section 4.1 shall be declared by the Board not to be a Member in Good Standing and shall not be entitled to vote on matters before the Association, hold a position on the board of directors or utilize any of the Association’s amenities until such time Member in Good Standing status is attained and so declared by the Board.
While the above example is very detailed, some HOAs’ bylaws may offer sparser language or possibly not have any bylaw provisions regarding suspending member privileges. When the language of members in good standing is vague or does not offer enough detail, the HOA’s attorney should be consulted. If the HOA’s governing documents fail to address this issue, amending the bylaws to include such language may be a viable option. Amending bylaws is generally much easier and more straightforward than amending declarations. The HOA’s attorney should be consulted on amending governing documents.
No matter what the HOA documents require about notifying members about revoking privileges, written notification is always advisable before these privileges are revoked. In certain situations, even if it is not required by the governing documents, a hearing before the board of directors to discuss the suspension may be advisable. Giving the member notice of the pending suspension and an opportunity to speak with the board of directors always comes across well in court, if the action eventually ends up in litigation.
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