Terminology surrounding the governing documents in your HOA can be confusing at times. If you have been a part of an HOA or even on the board, you may have heard the terms “governing documents”, “CC&Rs”, “bylaws”, and “rules and regulations” without really understanding the difference between them or what each individually means. In this article we hope to clarify these terms and leave you with a broader knowledge of their use.
“Governing documents” is a generalized term that is used to refer to all of the documents that are used to regulate, control, and organize each individual HOA. All of these documents are subject to local, state, and federal laws, but are the guidelines by which each community functions. There are three types of governing documents which are outlined below:
The CC&Rs, or Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, is a document that is signed by each homeowner upon entering into contract with an HOA. The document is legally binding and is filed with the state in which the home is purchased. Within the pages of this contract is listed many of the important items that are agreed upon by the community. This can include clarifications about maintenance responsibility, restrictions regarding property appearance and use, assessments and fees, insurance requirements, and guidelines for enforcement and resolution of conflict.
Bylaws are a semi-permanent set of guidelines that outline the processes of everyday governance and structure of the community. Most of the bylaws have to do with the board, and it outlines important items such length of term, when board meetings are conducted, when the annual meeting is conducted, how many members are on the board, job descriptions of board members, and how new members are elected. The bylaws are fairly permanent because changes must go through a set of votes by members before they can be approved and enacted. However, changes are possible if needed.
Rules and Regulations
The rules and regulations documents are more flexible than the bylaws, given that the board has the ability to set a change in motion while only giving members of the community 30 days to review and express concerns at the change. The rules and regulations are set in place as a safety net to include anything that was missed or did not fit into categories in the CC&Rs and bylaws. They are usually smaller considerations regarding pool use, parking, pets, and general use of community amenities and common spaces. The rules and regulations help day by day interactions between homeowners, and their families, pets, and properties, in order to make everyone comfortable.
All of the governing documents are extremely important in making the community run smoothly. These documents should be referred to often in the case of disputes, violations, and enforcement. They are also crucial in some cases to determining who is responsible for maintenance and repairs. A thorough knowledge of your HOAs governing documents is essential to understanding how your community works and how you can be an integral part of that community.