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"You Can't Tell Me, I Can't Plant Vegetables in My Garden."



Said Mrs. Jones to the Community Manager over the phone. And you could just see Mrs.Jones shaking her finger at her as she was saying it.


If you are a Community Manager, a Board Member, or a Homeowner who has ever attended an open meeting, you can imagine this scenario in your head right now. You see the finger shaking and an elderly woman scolding a young manager, as if the manager hasn't read the Rules and Regulations or the Governing Documents of the Association.


Of course, the Manager is wrong, and Mrs. Jones is right. There must be a mistake.


The last Manager didn't do inspections. The one before let it slide. What's it matter. Its just some tomatoes and zucchini. Who's going to care.


And then you see tomatoes growing over the privacy fence into Mr. Miller's patio. And now Mr. Miller is calling because he's allergic to bees and bees are swarming in because the tomatoes are rotting in place.


On the opposite side, Mrs. Jones is calling because little Suzy plucked her Watermelon and ran off with it and is eating it for desert. It was growing out into the common area, so Suzy thought it was free fruit. Mrs. Jones wants it back.


Let alone, did anyone even ask themselves, is it even her garden....? Or is it a common element?


What is the Community Manager to do?


Believe it or not, the above situations are real examples that have occurred over the years of my management experience. While they did not all happen at one community, at one time, they all did happen at some point. When I take a step back, I still chuckle a little about little "Suzy" running off with the prize watermelon, but one has to come back to reflect on the reason why a Community Association exists.


Why Do Community Associations Exist?

Community Associations were created to form a little "utopia". Everyone agreed to the same Rules and Regulations at the time that they moved in, which included Rules like these, in addition to Architectural Standards. Together, the Rules and Architectural Standards enable the Community to maintain property values and enhance community living by promoting harmony. Ideally, property values may even increase.


Sounds great right?


So Why Do Rules and Regulations Exist?

Rules are standards that are set for everyone to agree upon. They are a balance or threshold for everyone in the community to maintain a level of peace and harmony. They protect property values from decreasing and, can help increase values by ensuring everyone's houses are maintained. Additionally, some rules protect the structure and aesthetics of the home by helping prevent damage from occurring to the home.


For example, vegetable and fruit bearing plants, attract wildlife to the home.

- Wildlife can carry insects that have diseases.

- Rats and mice are attracted to the buildings.

- More bugs can populate and create/increase pest control problems.

- Wildlife can nest closer, and/or underneath of buildings.

- Animals can destroy roofs/siding/wood on buildings. This is why HOA's and planned communities do everything they can to DETER animals AWAY from buildings.

- Increased costs for repairs in the community, that are unbudgeted, due to wildlife or pest control issues because of fruit bearing plants and vegetables, will have ill effects on the common area budget. This will effect everyone's Association fees, negatively.

- An alternative may be an interior garden like a tower, or aerogarden.

- Some communities also come together and createa community garden. Community gardens can be fenced in, to deter wildlife from entering and created in an area away from the homes. Some communities even add compost. Likewise, plots can even be "sold" to help raise funds for the community or a specific project (i.e. expenses for the fence for the community garden, or water for the garden, or to purchase a new bench or sign, etc.).


Where Do Rules Come From?

Rules are originated in the Declaration, which is a part of your running deed, and then carried out (sometimes) into a separate document called the Rules and Regulations.


How are Rules Created?

Rules and Regulations are created on the Administrative or Resolution level, meaning that the Declaration (also called the CC&R's or Master Deed) and Bylaws (sometimes called the Code of Regulations) do not need to be amended.


A Rule or Regulation can just be added by the Board at any time, by Board vote, after it is mailed to all of the owners in accordance with the notice requirements in the Governing Documents.


These notice requirements are typically spelled out in the Bylaws. The Board (and management, if you have professional management, should keep a book of resolutions, recording any changes made to the Rules and Regulations.


Summary:

Rules are not intended to punish a homeowner. They are meant to provide a sense of harmony amongst neighbors. Everyone agreed to this set of rules when they moved into the Association. Likewise, Rules and Regulations protect and enhance property values by prohibiting damage to current structure, ensuring upkeep and maintenance to the community, and enhancing the community's standards to the best of the Association's fiscal ability. As a Homeowner, if you are questioning a rule, ask yourself why does this rule exist. If you are unsure, have a conversation with your Community Manager and open the dialogue. Together, you may be able to work with your Community Manager and Board of Directors for a solution that works for all parties. Remember: Rules can be adopted, amended, or changed by the Board. Just because a rule exists, doesn't mean it can't be changed (But it doesn't mean it will be, either). So think what is best for at least 2/3 of your neighbors - because your Board, and Community Manager, always have to think of what is best for ALL of the Community, not just you and your home.


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Bricck Property Management is a boutique property management firm with corporate offices in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Bricck provides property management services to Homeowner's Associations, Condominiums, and Planned Communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Contact us today for a cost-effective but high customer service level proposal today! Phone: 610-596-8500 Email: info@bricck.com Website: www.bricck.com

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