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Understanding HOA governing documents

Homeowners may choose to live in a community with a homeowners’ association (HOA) because of the structure they provide. HOAs have governing documents to set out expectations for the community. There are several elements that should be included.

Governing documents

The rights and responsibilities of the homeowners within the community are outlined in the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). The CC&Rs also dictate whether there are restrictions on how property can be used and how it must be maintained. The bylaws explain the board of directors’ responsibilities and the HOA’s internal rules and procedures.

HOAs generally have restrictions for parking, pets, and noise as well as guidelines about the maintenance of common areas, like parks and swimming pools. The governing documents also address how dues are assessed and collected from homeowners.

They may include a step-by-step guide for reporting violations and imposing fines on non-compliant homeowners.

Resolving disputes

The governing documents are an important reference when there is a dispute in the community. They may require that the HOA and the homeowner participate in alternative dispute resolution before escalating the matter further. This may include mediation or arbitration.

Many governing documents include a process to amend rules and regulations that no longer apply, which can prevent disputes. They should be written so that they are fair and consistently applied to all community members.

They can also address situations where one community member makes a false complaint to the HOA about another community member and any penalties that they may face for doing so.