Sunday, 23 September 2018
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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

The Three Rs In Your Homeowner's Association

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 27 February 2018 20:35

Readin', ritin' and rithmatic used to cover what most needed to know, as long as they lived in the "holler". But homeowner associations have their own version of the Three Rs called Rules, Regulations and Resolutions. These are the policies and procedures that define HOA standards. They must comply with state and federal law. For example, the board cannot enact a rule that violates Fair Housing Act.

Rarely if ever are the Three Rs clearly or fully defined in the governing documents. That is by design to allow flexibility and customization. Amending bylaws is tedious and difficult. The Three Rs can usually be modified as needed by the board. The board may use either rules and regulations or resolutions to accomplish this goal. So what's the difference?

Rules and Regulations are used to address rules of conduct. Appropriate topics include:

  • Quiet Hours
  • Pets
  • Parking
  • Noise
  • Restrictions (use of clubhouse, pool rules)
  • Limitations on guest use.

When adopting new or revised rules, it's wise for the board to solicit owner input for a greater degree of compliance. Any proposed rule or regulation must comply with the governing documents. For example, if the governing documents state that guest parking may only be used by guests, a board rule cannot change that. That requires an amendment voted upon by the members.

Resolutions are the preferred method of establishing procedures for the homeowner association. Resolutions come in two types: policy and administrative.

Policy Resolutions define acceptable community standards. An example of a policy resolution: Many governing documents are unclear with regard to homeowner association versus owner maintenance responsibilities. Who repairs a water supply line after it enters an owner's unit? Who repairs damage from a flood originating in an upper unit? There are many variations on this theme that could be answered in a policy resolution that defines each item according to who is responsible. This particular resolution directly impacts homeowner insurance and owner responsibilities. Other significant policy resolutions deal with money collection, architectural guidelines and enforcement procedures.

Administrative Resolutions define procedural guidelines, like how to run board and homeowner meetings.

Mechanics of a Resolution. The resolution should first cite the relevant provisions of the governing documents and any applicable state statute, especially those sections which give the homeowner association authority to establish policies. Following the authority section are the details of the resolution. It is highly recommended to circulate proposed resolutions to the membership for a minimum 30 day period for comment before the board votes on it. Once approved, it should be dated and signed by the board president and the secretary.

About amending the governing documents. The Three Rs can be enacted by the board but amending the governing documents must be approved by the members by the percentage indicated in the governing documents. Getting this vote is often difficult so amendments should not be undertaken lightly. However, if the documents are unwieldy or in violation of the law in some respect, amending may be prescribed. Always consult with an attorney knowledgeable in homeowner association law.

Rules, regulations and resolutions help provide a clear and systematic way to deal with routine issues. Once enacted, they need to be enforced consistently and apply to all members, including the board.

For sample Rules, Regulations and Resolutions, see www.Regenesis.net.

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Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson owns Regenesis, a management consulting company that specializes in condominium and homeowner associations. He is a nationally recognized expert on HOA management issues.

Regenesis publishes The Regenesis Report, a monthly newsletter for HOA boards, developers and managers. To subscribe, go to Regenesis.net. He can be contacted by email at rich@regenesis.net.

www.regenesis.net

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