Condo rules are written to be guidelines to avoid chaos, confusion, and injury. It is important to remember that the application of condo rules is equally as important as the condo rules themselves.
When applying condo rules, emotion and bias should be left out of the process. What one should think about in evaluating the situation is the intent of the condo rules violator. People do make mistakes and should not always be punished for those mistakes. An example of this, which condo associations often deal with, is the person who puts their trash out too early or doesn't put away their container soon enough. Most condo associations have a rule about this. However, before fining or writing a nasty letter, let's consider the following:
A. Are the condo residents new and unaware of the condo rules?
B. Is this the first time the trash has been put out early?
C. Could there be an acceptable reason for their not following the condo rules?
D. Does this person routinely violate the various condo rules of the condo association?
You get the idea. Now let's determine where reasonableness & common sense come into play. The first thing you may want to do when a condo rule violation is determined is make a courtesy call to the condo resident. Whether you speak to them or to their answering machine, as is often the case, let them know that this is a "courtesy call" and explain why you are calling. Keep record of the date you made the call. If the condo rule violation continues and is not corrected in a timely fashion, a follow-up letter can be sent noting the date you previously called and establishing a date by which compliance is expected (again, be reasonable and use common sense). It is at this time that you should also advise that if the matter remains uncorrected after a certain date, a specified penalty shall apply.
In all condo associations, we should encourage those in positions of authority to look for the good, not the bad, in people and situations. Trust first that an honest mistake may have been made and that the act was not intentional. Believe me, the bad will quickly surface if there is a real problem and those that cannot be trusted to do what is right will also reveal themselves rather quickly. It can hardly be declared a mistake when bad acts are repeated over and over again. At that point, a gentle reminder should promptly transition to notice that the condo rules are to be followed and that certain actions have specific consequences.
One should also be alert along the way for Condo Board/Committee members that have a need to exert power and control the actions of others. We've all seen them. They are the chronic complainers. These people are usually looking for a problem, or will themselves create one, just so they can feel needed and draw attention to themselves. Unfortunately there are people in every Condo Association that feel they must bring to the attention of others every minor issue. You should not allow these people to destroy the comradery of the neighborhood, especially as it pertains to condo rules enforcement.
Remember, we are dealing with people's homes, their communities and their right to peaceful enjoyment of same. Your life will be a lot easier too if you encourage your board of directors to use Common Sense, Reasonableness and Intent in condo association rules enforcement.