Creating Effective Governing Rules: A Guideline for Success



When living the condominium lifestyle, you are choosing to live near other people. Everyone has a different version of what "being a good neighbour" means, which is why rules are enforced. 
 
These rules are not put in place for any reason other than maintaining order in the condominium. Without them, residents may decide to do whatever they please, which may cause tensions with other residents. 
 
As a community manager, this is where you step in. The board's primary responsibility is first to create the community rules. Then, the community manager must help enforce them. It helps when both parties are aligned throughout the process by setting the right amount of rules or policies to have a peaceful community. 
 
With this proper balance in rule-making, it will play an instrumental role in protecting community value and goodwill. To help string together effective governing rules, we have some guidelines to help you do that. 
 

Use common sense over emotions. 

Do not create rules for the sake of it, or to fulfill a personal agenda. When there are too many rules, you restrict the freedom residents have and unreasonably limit residents' activities. The aim when creating policies should always be to preserve home values and resident safety. 
 

Be clear and straightforward.

The rules should be clear and easy to follow for compliance's sake. Residents should be able to understand precisely what is set out with no confusion. 
 

Communication is fundamental.

Communicating new rules is essential for residents to follow them. As a community manager, ensure that all proper communication methods are used overtime so residents can start getting used to them. Provide a grace period after new rules are implemented. 
 

Evaluate the rules.

Go through the policies every so often to make sure they are still relevant to the current times, or if it seems to have little to no effect with the residents. The choice is ultimately to update the rule to address this or eliminate it. 
 

There will be exceptions.

Creating a rule that applies to every situation is next to impossible. Instead of the head-scratching during this phase, examine the facts and decide upon a fair practice if legitimate reasons exist to be lenient. 
 

Have a protocol for broken rules.

Once a resident has broken a rule, notify them of their infraction. Depending on the infraction nature, you can let them off with a warning, especially if it is a new rule. You should be firm in your tone regarding non-compliance (such a pet rule infraction), including the consequences for further infractions. If there is an explanation from the resident, try to hear the story objectively. 
 
Do not make impulsive reactions whenever a problem arises. Any unique problem requires a unique solution. The best course of action is to focus on understanding and perspective when enforcement is needed. 
For goodwill, a mutual agreement is what is most desired, but if that is not the direction it seems to be heading, both sides can choose mediation or legal solutions. 
 
To help guide you, a community management company will have the knowledge and experience to help your board enforce rules the right way. 
 

Reject anonymous communication.

In some cases, you will hear complaints from unverified or unidentified sources. Ignore them at all costs. Any credible claim will be someone who openly discusses the situation in person. 
 

Be sure your rule is a solution, not another problem.

If your rule results in a bigger mess than what you started with, it's not a good rule.
 
Rules are meant to help your community. Consider these tips when you are formulating your rules and policies, and you'll see a more harmonious community. For more on the creation and enforcement of rules, contact FirstService Residential, North America's leading association management company.
 

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