Condo Media - August 2018 - 56

The Region

RHODE ISLAND

A Fine Without a Hearing ...
Isn't Fine at All

[by By Mary-Joy Howes, Esq.]

Boards that know the importance
of enforcing the governing documents, including the rules and
regulations, are one step ahead.
Failure to enforce and apply the
governing documents can expose the
association to liability, and create
disorder and chaos among the membership. The method of enforcement,
however, can be troublesome for
boards and managers if it runs afoul of
Rhode Island law.
The Rhode Island Condominium
Act at Section 3.20 lays out specific
guidelines for enforcement of the association's governing documents. It is
imperative that Rhode Island boards
and managers be familiar with Section
3.20, and that they confirm that the
governing documents comply with the
requirements of that Section. Section
3.20 reads:

(a)

An executive board may impose and assess fines against
a unit owner as a method of enforcing the association's declaration,
bylaws, and rules and regulations.
Such fines may include, but are not

56

CONDOMEDIA August 2018

limited to, daily fines for continued
violative conduct in the future. Notice and the opportunity for a hearing must be provided to an alleged
violator before a fine is imposed and
assessed. All fines shall be a lien on
the unit charged.

(b)

Daily fines imposed and
assessed pursuant to this
section shall be no more than one
hundred dollars ($100) per day for
residential condominiums nor more
than five hundred dollars ($500) per
day for commercial condominiums.

(c)

Fines other than daily fines
imposed and assessed pursuant to this section shall be no more
than five hundred dollars ($500) for
residential condominiums and no more
than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for
commercial condominiums.

(d)

Any condominium declaration, bylaw, rule or regulation which purports to establish a
maximum fine or daily fine shall
be invalid.

(e)

Hearings conducted pursuant to this section shall
be before the executive board or a
person designated by the executive
board.

(f)

A decision in a hearing held
pursuant to this section must
include costs in all cases and reasonable attorney's fees, if the prevailing
party is represented by a member of
the Rhode Island Bar. Such attorney's
fees and costs shall also be a lien on
the unit charged.

IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS
Section (a) states that while a board
may impose and assess fines, notice
and opportunity for a hearing must be
provided to the alleged violator before
a fine is assessed.
This is the most common pitfall
for boards. Boards that assess fines
without giving a unit owner the opportunity for hearing risk exposure to an
action by the unit owner for violation
of the Condominium Act, and potentially for violation of state and federal
fair debt collection practices.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - August 2018

Contents
Condo Media - August 2018 - Cover1
Condo Media - August 2018 - Cover2
Condo Media - August 2018 - Contents
Condo Media - August 2018 - 2
Condo Media - August 2018 - 3
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Condo Media - August 2018 - Cover3
Condo Media - August 2018 - Cover4
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