Did you fall head over heels with a French Bulldog only to realize your homeowner association (HOA) has a sixty-pound weight restriction on dogs? Are you expecting your sister to stay with you long-term, but she won’t be able to park her vehicle overnight on the street while she’s there? They might seem annoying, but your HOA has rules and regulations for a reason.
An HOA’s bylaws govern how the community operates. They contain provisions, including how often to hold board elections, how many members can serve on the HOA board of directors at any given time, and the duties of each board member. Everyone on an HOA board ran a successful HOA board campaign.
The HOA’s Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) outline the obligations and rights an association has to its members and vice versa. CC&Rs contain provisions including property-use restrictions, dispute resolution, and enforcement of covenants. In addition, they cover obligations concerning dues, maintenance, and insurance. However, although the governing documents and rules of an HOA are established at the time of the development of the community, they can be amended.
Understanding the mandate of an HOA’s governing document is vital when trying to amend HOA rules. The rules of an HOA are in the form of bylaws or declarations that each property owner receives and must agree to before moving into the community. If there is a conflict, federal and state laws trump everything else. In contrast, bylaws and board resolutions are at the bottom in terms of significance.
If you want to amend HOA bylaws or covenants, your amendment must receive the required number of votes before it becomes valid. Usually, some rules and regulations of an HOA can be amended by a vote of the board of directors; however, bylaws and declarations require a vote of the property owners—typically a substantial percentage, such as 66% or 75% of all homeowners.
There may be special situations that spark an amendment, which may very well be what happens when HOA rules are not enforced.
If the HOA board amends a rule or creates new rules, they need to involve a lawyer. Bylaws and declarations are legal documents, and a qualified legal professional must review any amendments made to them.
However, if the proposed amendment is minor, such as adding a provision that says there is to be “no reversing into your parking area,” the HOA board of directors can probably make the change without legal advice. That said, an attorney can spot any contradictions to the current bylaws or declarations when any HOA rules change or are overridden.
Here’s how to determine if your amendment is a rare case that doesn’t require an attorney. You likely won’t need a lawyer if you’re sure the amendment is simple, well-drafted, and doesn’t contradict any federal and state laws, declarations, CC&Rs, articles of incorporation, or HOA bylaws.
Wondering if an HOA can change rules without a vote? Take a look at our recent article.
Every situation is different, but there are a few basic steps to making amendments to HOA rules:
Clearly describe what your HOA rule amendment is and determine if you need to do anything to get it approved. For instance, you may want to amend a rule stipulating that members can email HOA correspondence rather than sending paper letters. In this case, you should circulate a form to gather every homeowner’s email address if you don’t already have it.
After the HOA board has proposed an amendment, they must send a notice within ten to thirty days before the next HOA board meeting. The notice should include:
The only time a notice isn’t required is if the rule urgently addresses a potential threat to public safety or health or a potential risk of significant economic loss to the association.
During the meeting in which board members seek to approve the amendment, the board must allow homeowners to air their opinions and questions. The proposal for rule amendment must be on the published agenda–if you’re proposing an amendment to HOA covenants and other governing documents, your amendment must get enough votes from other homeowners. Speak with other homeowners, and if they support this amendment, request that they join you at the board meeting or sign a petition to show their support.
After the meeting where board members approve the amendment proposal, the HOA must notify all of the members of the entire community association. The board must send the notice within fifteen days of the decision.
An HOA benefits all homeowners–if the amendment you want to pass is what other homeowners want and it affects the community in a positive way, it’s likely to be approved.