Intro to HOA Bylaws, Boards, and Directors
Owning your own home can be a rich and rewarding experience. Many would epitomize it as having your piece of the American dream. But if you own a home that is part of a homeowners association, you know that owning can come with extra strings attached.
Like traditional single-family homes, owning real estate within an HOA still requires routine maintenance and care. If you want your property to appreciate, making updates and improvements to avoid obsolescence and modernize the property is always an underlying necessity. However, you also must take extra steps to comply with requirements you are obligated to follow being a homeowner within an HOA.
In part, your homeowner’s association is governed by a set of rules or bylaws that sometimes require you to perform additional responsibilities to the organization to have it run more smoothly and benefit everyone living within the community.
If you are thinking about purchasing or have recently purchased property within an HOA, here are the top HOA bylaws you should know about and how they can impact you.
Bylaws vs. Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs)
Homeowners associations are usually governed by two specific documents: covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws.
The CC&Rs are meant to outline specific rules that regulate homeowners’ rights and the land itself, so for these, you may see things such as property restrictions or insurance requirements. Furthermore, CC&Rs are much more extensive, have a tighter focus, and often can supersede other governing provisions that an HOA may have enacted.
It is equally important to understand an association’s bylaws, which are entirely different and separate from the rules and regulations residents have to follow under the running CC&Rs.
HOA bylaws outline operations requirements, processes, and daily responsibilities of the HOA to help better govern the organization as a whole. These rules can still have a tangible impact on owners within the community.
Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors
Any set of HOA bylaws should spell out and specify the board members’ powers and duties as they related to state law.
Usually, these provisions outline how the board can implement penalties for CC&R violations, suspend individual members voting rights (where necessary), and even enforce provisions to ensure other board members uphold their responsibilities to the organization.
Knowing how the bylaws allocate power to the board of directors is essential should you ever have a conflict with the HOA or one of its decisions.
It would help if you also understood how the voting structure works to make informed decisions when you serve. Equally important is knowing how the board can enforce you to comply with completing your officer responsibilities if you do not uphold your office’s duties.
Your Duties and Responsibilities as an Officer
One of the main things to know about your HOA’s bylaws is what your duties and responsibilities are should you serve as an officer for the HOA. Several common positions that owners can serve as include president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary.
The bylaws should not only spell out all the assigned officer roles, but also the corresponding duties and responsibilities of each officer. Owners usually serve as an officer on a rotating basis, meaning you may need to know your duties serving the organization at some point in time.
Duties can differ depending on your given officer role. Overall, serving as an officer for your HOA can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be time-consuming. It’s essential to understand your responsibilities under the bylaws so that you can sufficiently gauge the time commitment of your new role.
Membership and Meeting Requirements
Although a less crucial section of the bylaws, it’s still important to review provisions on how and when the board of directors meets.
More importantly, the bylaws should outline when all HOA members hold an annual meeting. Additionally, it should spell out how many members (or a percentage of members) need to be present to enact a majority vote.
Members may also be able to use proxies for certain voting situations. While this means you may not have to attend all member meetings, you should know how to provide a proxy vote if you want your opinion to count when voting on specific changes or issues.
Amendments and Non-Compliance
Sometimes it becomes necessary to change or alter provisions within an HOA’s bylaws. It’s recommended that bylaws be revised every five years to stay current with newer rules and regulations.
The bylaws themselves should establish a foundation for grounds to amend the current rules and what processes need to be followed to amend said rules. This is especially important should there be a conflict with state legislation or superseding documents (such as Article of Incorporation, where applicable).
As an owner, it’s essential to know when and how your HOA bylaws are changing. For example, if you are an officer with specific duties, it could impact your role and responsibilities.
It also may be the case that you are subject to certain changes even if you disagree with them should the bylaws include a clause that allows amendments or changes without a majority vote by all HOA members.
Similarly, the bylaws should also address non-compliance with the stated rules. There should be a documented plan on addressing violations of the bylaws if members of the association are in non-compliance. It’s important to understand how you can be reprimanded should you not comply with the HOA bylaws.