New research shows that 73.9 million Americans live in a community with a Community Association, showing tremendous growth over time (Foundation for Community Association). Call it a Homeowners Association (HOA), Condominium Owners Association (COA), or Property Owners Association (POA), the function is the same: they are a legal entity formed for the maintenance of common areas within a community. For the purposes of this writing, we will call them HOAs.
When you reside in a community with an HOA, you are automatically a member of the association. There are fees to be a member, and the HOA Board is elected. Beyond these basic facts, there are a few documents maintained and executed by the HOA. If you find yourself questioning your HOA’s authority to perform a task, or if you’re a board member yourself, it’s vital to understand the difference in these governing documents.
Bylaws vs. CC&Rs vs. Rules & Regulations
The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) is a legal document that describes what you can do with your property as an owner. CC&Rs are used to regulate the use, appearance and maintenance of a property. Within this document, you will find guidelines specified for every homeowner. In short, they are the rules you must abide by in order to live in and own property in the community. This includes but is not limited to:
- Yard Maintenance
- Paint Colors
- Noise Ordinances
- Pet Rules
This document is available to you before you purchase your property, and you will have to sign acknowledging that you are aware of this fact. Non-compliance could result in the rules being enforced or consequences like fines, warnings, suspension or even legal action.
Rules & Regulations
In supplement to the CC&Rs, the Rules and Regulations have one major difference: they can be changed with a simple board vote as opposed to filing with the state. The board vote does require a community review, so everybody gets to weigh in on the decision. Rules and Regulations should not contradict the CC&Rs, except in rare cases such as a natural disaster.
In contrast with the other two documents which are more about rules for the community, the Bylaws are established by the HOA to regulate itself. They outline the structure of governance for the HOA. This could include things like:
- Annual Budget Creation
- How dues will be determined
- Duties and responsibilities of the board
- Board member eligibility
- Election dates and rules
These documents help ensure board members and residents always act responsibly and in the best interest of the community.