Why we have rules
Rules are the basis for ensuring a harmonious lifestyle for residents in a residential community11th Feb 2019
All institutions in the world have rules and regulations that govern the operation, use and participation in that institution. Residents living outside a residential estate are governed by municipal laws relating to noise, the keeping of animals, the use of estate agent boards, the driving of vehicles in the suburb, etc. Hospitals, libraries, universities, golf courses, sports clubs, airports and shopping centres have rules and regulations too, and residential estates are no different.
Rules and regulations approved by the members of a homeowners association (HOA) are also designed to govern the activities of the residential community, and are always intended to serve the best interests of the whole community rather than individuals or groups of individuals in the community.
It is not the board or management that approves the rules, but rather the members themselves. It is the responsibility of the board and management to implement and enforce the rules, as well as the penalties for breaches.
Management rules, rules for the security and safety of the community, aesthetic guidelines, rules pertaining to the use of facilities and common areas, environmental rules and, of course, conduct rules are important to all members of a residential community. If these rules are clearly communicated, properly stated and lawful, there is no reason why most if not all members of the HOA will buy into these as an integral component of community living.
It is important for all members and residents to know how the company, in this case the HOA, is managed. The HOA is reliant on all levies being paid by all members on time in order for the HOA to meet its financial obligations to its creditors. Rules relating to who can vote, and how to vote for resolutions to be adopted, ensure that all members understand how their rights are exercised. The processes adopted for board decisions to be made must be clearly stated to give all members of the HOA peace of mind relating to good corporate governance. Members also need to be fully informed of how directors and/or trustees are elected, and how they can participate in the election of the directors and trustees and, of course, how they themselves can be nominated to serve.
Security and safety rules
While the ultimate responsibility for security rests with each home owner, most people who choose to live in a secure estate do so because of the added security. Controlling access and egress ensures accountability. While access to individuals who have a rightful purpose to enter cannot be denied, it is important to have information relating to the reasons for which people enter the community. Rules pertaining to the use of roads, speeding and dangerous driving are there to protect residents and their families, and in some cases the wildlife. Other safety rules, like the storage of hazardous goods, the lighting of fires and setting off of fireworks, for example, are designed to protect the community and property.
Every community establishes its own ‘theme’ in respect of design, layout, materials used and colour, and rules pertaining to the maintenance of the intended look and feel will have a direct impact on the value of property.
Further rules and regulations relating to building standards, stands under construction and safety fences ensure a balance in maintaining the quality of life and lifestyle for existing residents, and the need to complete buildings according to plan. The placement of external structures, including air conditioners, television dishes and solar panels, etc., may affect the aesthetics of the community, so regulations are in place to ensure the sustainability of property value.
Usage and service rules
All estate facilities and common areas are for the shared use of all members of the HOA, residents and guests, and the use thereof needs to be controlled to limit abuse. The golf course, restaurants, hotels and sports clubs require rules relating to use, hours of operation and accessibility to ensure fair opportunity for all to enjoy them. Very often these are also commercial operations governed by their own regulations, and need to form part of the rights and responsibilities of HOA members. A harmonious lifestyle is attained by the attitude towards the use of the shared and common areas including parks, dams, walking and jogging trails and the like.
Environmental factors of community living, including energy, water and waste management, are the responsibility of all who live in South Africa, and focused projects and joint efforts in this regard are the responsibility of all who live in residential communities. It is a key responsibility of the board and management to comply with environmental legislation regarding the removal of alien vegetation, as well as the control of planting and beautification of gardens, both private and common.
People are entitled to expect certain levels of privacy, peace and tranquillity within the community in which they live. The community is made up of different age groups, cultures and belief systems, and rules relating to the general behaviour of all residents need to set a minimum standard of conduct relating to music, the use of equipment and control of pets, etc.
Rules that are formulated in each of the above categories should fit the purpose of each category.