Every incorporated homeowners association needs to have bylaws as part of their association’s governing documents. Understanding the significance of bylaws and the content of your association’s bylaws is critical to the proper functioning of a homeowners association. Frequently, association members are familiar with their HOA’s “CC&Rs” (the abbreviation of “Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions”), but they overlook the bylaws. Board and association members who are trying to determine the proper procedures for their association’s actions must be familiar with the content of the association’s bylaws. A homeowners association’s bylaws contain provisions concerning the operations of the association such as the association’s internal governance and the manner in which the association conducts its business and provides notice of its board of director and membership meetings. The bylaws specify in detail the rules for the proper functioning of a homeowners association and detail such things as:
- Membership in the Association
- Membership Voting
- Membership Meetings
- Membership Rights
- Board of Directors
- Duties and Powers of the Board of Directors
- Member Assessment Obligations and Association
- Required Reports and Disclosures to Members
Because the bylaws are usually not recorded documents and are not enforceable against the association members as equitable servitudes (covenants and restrictions that are incorporated into deeds and bind all parties having an interest in the property), an association’s declaration or CC&Rs (which are enforceable as equitable servitudes) will frequently include essential provisions for operation of the development, such as voting rights, use restrictions, or limitations on the board’s authority to take certain actions.
Bylaws are important legal documents that are a critical component of a homeowners association’s governing documents. The bylaws should always be drafted by lawyers who are eperienced in homeowners’ association law and bylaws that are incomplete or outdated should be amended or restated by following the procedures for amendments that should be specified in the bylaws. Every member of a homeowners association should be provided with a copy of the association’s bylaws when they purchase their property and members should be encouraged to read and familiarize themselves with the content of their association’s bylaws. Additionally, members who volunteer their services as officers and directors of a homeowners’ association should be required to be thoroughly familiar with the association’s bylaws. Think of the bylaws as a roadmap that will provide directions to where you are going.