An association has rules to preserve the overall appearance of the community, to protect the value of common property and owners’ homes, and to make the neighborhood a great place to live. However, there are rare cases when the association may receive a request to waive some regulations and rules.

The board doesn’t make such decisions without careful thought first. Upholding the rules and being flexible when issues arise is like walking a tightrope and can become a slippery slope.

Board members must consider individual circumstances when an owner asks for a rule waiver, priorities of other owners, if it will be setting a precedent, and how they will document the request. The board must review how the restrictions are written to determine if there’s room for flexibility and may not even have the authority to waive the rule. Only the association has the authority to change the documents if the rule is part of the associations’ Declaration or Bylaws.

Assessments are never up for negotiation, for instance, though the board can approve payment plans, or waive interest or late fees depending on circumstances. However, all owners have to pay their share of common expenses.

Waiving some fees, such as maintenance fees means other owners must pay the shortfall and that is unfair to them. It may also cause hard feelings among those owners.

Boards understand that issues aren’t always black and white and realize the need to be flexible in an ever-changing community. Chat with board members or the manager if you think the association should waive or relax a rule. If it’s something that can be considered, they will let you know. It may be that a rule needs to be changed to avoid additional waiver requests or it may no longer be relevant in present-day society.