If you live in a community association, whether it is a condominium, townhome, or apartment complex, you know that you live by certain rules usually determined by the governing documents of your homeowners association (HOA). Some of them may be in regard to financials, while others may help keep the peace and general running of the property with specific rules for unit owners. Every once in a while, those documents will need to be amended. Here is a quick guide on that process.
What are the Governing Documents?
If you are new to living in an HOA, you may not be aware that there are three main documents that help your community function. The basic HOA legal documents that may need amending are the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). You should have been given digital access to these or a printed version upon signing your lease/mortgage with the community governing board. If you do not know what these are or can not find these documents, ask a member of your HOA board and they will help get you acclimated to the paperwork. Your property management company should also have an idea where you can gain access to this information.
Why Amend Governing Documents?
The reasons for a change or amendment to a governing document can be varied. For example, some communities find that there are inconsistencies in documents that help manage the community. Others find that local, state, or federal statutes or laws have changed that make it necessary that the community makes changes to its governing laws as well. The list for why a document needs to be amended is long, but the process does not need to be equally painful.
Here are just a few possibilities as suggested by Echo Educational Community for HOA on why amendments sometimes need to occur.
- To eliminate obsolete provisions.
- To eliminate provisions no longer observed or enforced.
- To eliminate provisions that conflict with current laws.
- To eliminate provisions required by the Department of Real Estate in a start-up project that are no longer needed.
- To eliminate developer privileges no longer being used, such as two-class voting or exemption from use restrictions.
- To improve poorly drafted documents by clarifying ambiguous provisions.
- To tailor documents to fit the living experience of owners/members.
- To provide for changes in technology (satellite dishes, home office use, etc.).
- To make documents more “user-friendly” – better organization, add a table of contents and descriptive paragraph headings, etc.
- To eliminate or correct mistakes and errors.
How Often Should Amendments Occur?
Optimally, governing boards of HOAs should try to review the documents every few years but, occasionally, events or issues arise where the documents need to be evaluated in a limited time period. Usually, it is recommended that the community’s attorney amend the documents with input for the board and community members. Someone with knowledge of the community and how it is run would be a best-case scenario.
Does your HOA need help with updating or amending their governing documents? Visit our website and contact our professionals who can help get you started.