Responding to a Compliance Letter

Responding to a Compliance Letter

The Warning 2 arrives in the mailbox, but the lawn has been mowed, edged and had 2 weed treatments. So why does the city keep sending these notices?

Let’s start by acknowledging that at some point, all properties will receive some form of courtesy or compliance notice. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad neighbor. It just means there’s an issue that needs attention.

What many residents don’t know is that it’s not up to the city code officer, or the HOA compliance officer, to come back to the property and make sure the problem they cited has been resolved.  It’s up to the owner or tenant to follow up and get the issue closed.

The following steps will help you close the compliance loop with the first letter, which is really what the city and association want:

 

  • Refer to the original letter to determine if a response is required.
    • A courtesy notice making you aware of the lawn maintenance rules generally doesn’t require a response. It’s a reminder.
    • A Warning or Ticket will generally require an answer.

 

  • Be certain you’re doing all the steps necessary to close the issue.
    • Do you need to send an e-mail with an image?
      • Even if it’s not requested, including a picture will help ensure the incident is closed.
    • Are you supposed to call or fill out an online form?
      • If you use an ongoing service (ex: lawn service), including the name of the company and their treatment schedule will show you have a long-term solution to the problem.
    • Is a USPS letter rely required?

 

  • Avoid lengthy e-mails or voicemails about non-related issues. If there are other problems occurring in the neighborhood, use the appropriate channels to get them addressed.
    • Remember, compliance concerns fall under the ‘right of privacy’. Meaning it’s not something that can be publicly discussed.  And demanding to know if the next-door neighbor was also sited will not fix your situation.

 

  • Most importantly, communicate before the requested deadline.
    • Reach out as soon as you get the letter to let the city officer or the HOA manager know you’re addressing the problem.
      • Give them an estimate of when it should be fixed.
      • Some problems take longer to solve than others.Come to an understanding of the timeline required and ask for an extension if necessary.

 

The worst thing you can do is ignore the communication. 

Simply sending an image of the newly mowed lawn could be enough to confirm you paid attention to the compliance request.  And it tells the city and HOA know that you’re listening.

Compliance notices are meant to help maintain the image and quality of the neighborhood.  They serve as a reminder to residents of association expectations. Use them as your chance to ensure that you’re doing your part to make your community a great place to live.

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