I often get questions from Boards asking what can be done to ensure compliance with the governing documents. My answer is always “Stop being Mr. Nice Guy!” If the violators do not believe there will be repercussions for their acts then there is no incentive for them to stop the behavior. In essence, an Association needs to have a clear cut policy in place which sets forth the steps which will be taken when there is a violation of its governing documents or a failure to pay assessments. For the latter the Association should discuss the collection process with its collection attorney and create a system which initiates automatically when a payment is first in arrears rather six or twelve months down the road. For a document violation, the Association should work with its attorney to create a system by which demand letters can be generated and deadlines calendared for further action. For example, if an owner has violated a provision of the governing documents the first step could be a letter from the Association seeking compliance within a specific number of days and advising the matter will be turned over to counsel for failure to comply. Should the owner fail to comply the next step would be to have the attorney issue the demand. This demand would also be time sensitive and would advise of the Association’s position that it will pursue the matter through arbitration, mediation or other legal proceeding and that same may result in an exposure to fees and costs to the owner. The Association could opt for a second demand by the attorney as part of its policy to serve as a “final notice.” Once the deadlines in the demands have lapsed the next step should automatically come in to play. This next step would be non-binding arbitration, pre-suit mediation and/or litigation depending on the nature of the Association (condominium v. homeowners) and the violation. The theory behind such a clear cut procedure is not to promote wide-spread litigation but rather to deter the inappropriate behavior. Once the owners see that the Association is taking a hard line they will be less inclined to deviate from what is expected of them.