HOA Documents Every Homeowner Should Know About

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The HOA documents serve as a guiding force for a homeowners association. As such, it is important that all homeowners and board members understand their contents.

What Are HOA Documents?

Every homeowners association has a set of documents that govern its operations. These homeowners association documents follow a hierarchy, each fulfilling a unique purpose and authority.

Homeowners typically receive a copy of their HOA documents when they become a members of the community. However, an HOA may also make these documents available through other means. In today’s age, it is more common for homeowners to access documents online through the HOA’s portal or website. Homeowners may also approach their HOA board or manager for a physical copy. Homeowners may find these documents at the local county recorder’s office in most cases.

Hierarchy of HOA Governing Documents

In descending order, the hierarchy of the HOA governing documents is as follows: federal, state, and local laws, the community plat or map, the HOA CCRs, the Articles of Incorporation, the HOA bylaws, and the HOA rules and regulations. Let’s dive into each one blow.

1. Federal, State, and Local Laws

Federal, state, and local laws precede all other HOA documents. While these laws don’t come in written form, unlike the rest of the documents, they are among the most important. 

Homeowners associations must abide by the law. Some states have specific statutes dedicated to governing HOAs and condominium associations. In California, this comes in the form of the Davis-Stirling Act. However, that doesn’t mean other laws don’t apply to HOAs.

Homeowners associations are organizations, too. In many states, they are nonprofit corporations, and as such, they must follow the state’s nonprofit corporation law.

Additionally, several federal laws apply to HOAs and condo associations. These include the following:

Beyond that, HOAs and condos must also adhere to their local ordinances and regulations. These can change depending on the location, so board members should keep themselves informed.

2. Community Plat

The community plat is a recorded map of the entire community. This document contains maintenance responsibilities and the locations and boundaries of properties. Owners will also find each lot or unit’s exact measurements and dimensions.

Other than that, the community plat details the following:

  • Landscaping restrictions
  • Vehicle restrictions
  • Handicapped parking spaces
  • Lighting requirements
  • Trash enclosures
  • Areas for future development

3. Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs)

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The CC&Rs stand out as the most comprehensive among all the governing documents. This document contains all vital information about the development and its operational framework. The only documents that precede the CC&Rs are the community plat and the federal, state, and local laws. If there’s a conflict between the CC&Rs and the HOA’s bylaws, the CC&Rs must be followed.

More often than not, the CC&Rs contain substantial provisions, contributing to its lengthy format. While no two associations are exactly alike, most CC&Rs contain the following:

  • Definition of the common areas of the HOA or condo association
  • Governance of property use and restrictions, both for individual lots or units and the HOA’s common areas
  • Association powers, duties, and extent of authority
  • Rights and obligations of the HOA or condo association, including maintenance responsibilities, rule enforcement, and financial requirements
  • Rights and obligations of the homeowners or unit owners, including maintenance responsibilities, dues payments, and rule compliance
  • Procedures and requirements for amendments to the governing documents
  • General rules and regulations, such as architectural standards and rental restrictions

Homeowners and board members must adhere to all the provisions of the CC&Rs. Compliance is mandatory, and breaching these conditions and restrictions can result in penalties.

HOAs must record their CC&Rs in many states with the local county recorder’s office. Sellers must also typically supply a copy of the CC&Rs to buyers before selling a home.

4. Articles of Incorporation

To establish an HOA or condo association, the community developer must create and file the Articles of Incorporation. This document contains pertinent information such as the HOA’s legal name, address, and corporate status. Sometimes, it will also briefly outline the association’s basic functions.

Although the Articles of Incorporation don’t contain much information, it is an essential part of an HOA. Before the developer can sell any property or unit in the HOA, it must file this document as a nonprofit corporation with the Secretary of State. 

However, it’s worth noting that not all states require HOAs to establish a nonprofit corporation. In some places, associations can operate as unincorporated corporations.

5. Bylaws

The HOA bylaws contain descriptions of how the association must operate. It includes a variety of information, including but not limited to the following:

  • Voting rights
  • Voting procedures
  • Rules for calling and holding a meeting
  • Frequency of meetings
  • Number of board members and officers
  • Board member duties and responsibilities
  • Election procedures and requirements, including nomination procedures and candidate qualifications
  • Term lengths for board members
  • Procedures for removing board members

6. Rules and Regulations

The CC&Rs contain the association’s general rules and regulations. However, a separate document, the HOA operating rules, expounds on these general regulations. The operating rules are more specific than the CC&Rs.

Every association is different, so the contents of the operating rules and regulations can vary significantly from one community to another. That said, some rules are more common than others.

Some of the most prevalent rules of an HOA include:

  • Trash collection schedules and procedures
  • Parking restrictions
  • Vehicle regulations
  • Fence heights and materials
  • Operating hours of amenities

Review Thoroughly

HOA documents play a critical role in any association. They govern how an HOA or condo should run. Homeowners and board members should understand these documents to fulfill their roles better and avoid penalties. On the other hand, buyers should review these documents before purchasing a home in an HOA. This way, they know what they’re potentially signing themselves up for.
Personalized Property Management provides expert HOA services in Southern California, including help with HOA documents. Call us today at 760-325-9500 or email us at info@ppminternet.com to learn more!