03 Dec Operations Column: October 2018
If you want to sink into some really dry reading, pull out your copy of the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and Covenants for your association. Most people read the opening lines and quickly decide that if they’re doing something wrong, someone will let them know. They put them in the file drawer and move on to more thrilling reading, like the blurbs in state election ballots.
Your HOA documents contain important information that’s key to how the association will function. And while we can’t explain the specific details for the association you live in, we can offer some basics that may make it easier to understand.
The Articles of Incorporation will be the first association document. It includes the actual name of the association, the non-profit format and the purpose. Without it, the association couldn’t exist. And just as reference, I’ve never seen a ‘purpose’ that includes fines, fees and arbitration. In general, the ‘purpose’ is about an agreement by owners to maintain common elements and encourage the advancement and comfort of all residents.
Association Bylaws are created to determine the structure of the board and define specific responsibilities for each officer and director. They may include provisions for the general and annual meetings but mostly focus on the board of directors (BOD). If you want to know who actually signs the checks or how often financials are reviewed, look in the Bylaws.
Covenants AKA Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions or CC&R’s; this is the document most people think of when it comes to an HOA. The CC&R’s define homeowner and resident responsibilities.
CC&R’s will include information on structural changes, common element maintenance and individual conduct.
They include noise and nuisance provisions; parking and trash can instructions; segments on amenity access and conditions of participation within the community.
These 3 documents will be supplemented by resolutions or rules and regulations. Think of it like this, in the 1970’s when your association documents were created, solar screens, solar panels and residential wind turbines were not commonly available to the public. Instead of changing the CC&R’s to include a Solar/Turbine provision, the board can authorize a resolution that outlines the owners Solar/Turbine responsibilities.
Why would the board create this resolution? The Articles of incorporation instruct the community to encourage the advancement of the residents. Ensuring homeowners can adapt to the latest technology keeps the community relevant and that makes owners happy.
The Bylaws give the board the right to expand the association guidelines in order to have those guidelines better serve the community. The board is responsible for envisioning how technological changes will impact their community.
And the CC&R’s define how structural changes will be approved. This is commonly known as the ARC or architectural review process. This ensures continuity in the community and defines where and how changes can be made on the property.
When faced with a question about your association, knowing where to look for the answer will always be the first step.