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HOA Documents

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The HOA documents are for homeowner associations that contain the rules, regulations, and all other terms of contracts that the members are bound by in the U.S. Membership is automatic for all individuals who purchase a property that is part of such associations. That is why several state laws require sellers to disclose to all buyers that the particular property is being considered for an association. The seller must also provide details about the association’s contact number and other important documents.

Note: For more details on HOA documents, you may watch this video.

Benefits of HOA Documents

There can be several benefits to having efficient HOA documents. The major ones include:

  • Having Neat and Well-kept Neighborhoods: Homeowner associations always ensure that the community maintains a specific level of presentability and decorum. These details are also included as rules in the HOA documents that make it legally acceptable, too. That is why these places are very nice neighborhoods to live in the United States.
  • Offering Various Amenities for Members: Communities living with HOAs can always have amenities. These requirements are often cited in the HOA documents by the sellers or the association itself. That is why it becomes easier to take advantage of luxuries like a community pool, children’s playgrounds, or common areas to gather in such places.
  • Implementing Rules to Keep the Peace: Any individual may try to turn hostile toward a community with an HOA. However, peace is usually maintained in such places instead of calling the police if there is a dispute with a neighbor. This is because HOA documents give the association members authority to mediate conflicts and take actions that can influence better behavior.

Basic HOA Documents in the United States

All the homeowners’ associations have a basic set of governing documents that are usually listed in order of hierarchy for better understanding. Here is a list of such basic HOA documents that dictate how a community may be governed:

  • Federal and State Law: The documents associated with these laws apply unless the statute defers to the respective association's documents.
  • Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions (CC&Rs): This document contains the rights and responsibilities of each HOA association member and the HOA's responsibilities to its members. The information should cover architectural restrictions, property use restrictions, and property maintenance standards.
  • Articles of Incorporation: These documents include basic information about the HOA. This often includes the name of the association, its respective location, and the purpose of the same association.
  • Documents on Bylaws: These papers set out all the technical rules and procedures for voting, the election of directors, and other important term limits.
  • Rules and Regulations: These documents include ordinances associated with pets, landscaping, fencing, waste disposal, etc.
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Where to Find HOA Documents

A particular association’s governing HOA documents should be provided to the buyers at the time of closing. Yet, anyone can also obtain these same documents by any one of the following methods:

  • Searching the Community Website or App: HOA associations make many governing documents and other necessary forms available online so that everyone can find them electronically.
  • Checking Public Records: Most governing documents like HOAs must be filed with one or more governmental entities. That is why many of these documents are a part of public records and can be accessed through local government offices.
  • Connecting with the Management Company: A professional management company is a great resource for HOA documents. They can provide a set of HOA documents or offer directions on how to do so.
  • Asking the Board Members: Interested individuals can contact board members and inquire about obtaining HOA documents if the latter have made themselves available for the same.

Elements to Include in HOA Documents

As mentioned earlier, an HOA document always varies by association. However, some common elements must be included in these documents as a part of the HOA bylaws. This aims to explain the official details of the respective organization. This also helps ensure that various regulations, bylaws, CC&Rs, and state laws are followed in order consistently. These include:

  • Name and Purpose: The HOA association must state the following details in the document:
    • Official name
    • Location
    • The fiscal year
    • Other important laws
  • Membership Requirements: All CC&Rs and rules and regulations outline member rules. Moreover, the bylaws will establish membership parameters such as:
    • Criteria for membership within the HOA association's jurisdiction
    • Rights and limitations of members
    • Dues cost and payment schedules
    • Voting powers
    • The process of becoming an HOA member
  • Board Duties: HOA documents must also include the details of an elected board of directors to represent all the homeowners. The HOA bylaws will usually cover the following:
    • Roles and responsibilities
    • Powers and duties
    • Minimum and maximum number of HOA board members
    • Duration of service
    • Nomination and election procedures
    • Frequency of elections
    • Compensation
    • Terms of and procedures for removals
    • Resignation processes
  • Officer Duties: The HOA document must also have information on the officers apart from the board members. These HOA bylaws should detail information, including:
    • Roles
    • Vacancy management procedures
    • Term of office
    • Duties breakdown by role
    • Election processes
  • Board Member Meetings: Bylaws will have an inclusion of board member meeting details such as:
    • Meeting frequency
    • Types of meetings
    • Quorum requirements
    • Actions permissible without meetings
  • Member Meetings: HOAs must always host regular meetings that include residents. This information must also be included in the HOA document. It gives everyone the chance to be heard, share their respective suggestions and feedback, and remain in the know about what is going on in their community. The following should be outlined in the HOA document, too:
    • Meeting frequency
    • Quorum requirements
    • Voting eligibility
    • Rules for proxy votes
  • Committees: Many HOAs are also required to form committees to support the board of directors. These committees serve various roles, and the details must also be included in the HOA document. These include overseeing architectural changes, financial matters, social events, landscaping maintenance, rule enforcement, and community safety.

Note: To learn more about these prerequisites of HOA documents, click this link.

Key Terms for HOA Documents

  • Board: A group of members that form a team and can act on the particular community’s behalf within a homeowners’ association.
  • Quorum: The minimum number of owners required to hold an HOA meeting for a particular association.
  • Fiduciary Responsibility: The ethical and moral obligations of the HOA board to make decisions for the benefit of every resident.
  • Governing Documents: The collection of documents mandatory for an HOA, which include articles of incorporation, operation rules, and bylaws.
  • Community Association Manager: The face of any particular HOA company who is a greater part of the community and board meetings, too.

Final Thoughts on HOA Documents

Many aspects of the association membership process in the United States feel overwhelming and extensive. This specifically applies to first-time HOA members or existing members learning the fundamentals of their HOA. That is why they need a professional lawyer to assist and resolve any confusion about HOA documents. This will also help any board member to save precious time and see happier homeowners within their association. If this is not enough, they can also seek help from the respective lawyer to draft proper HOA documents that comply with the rules and regulations of the country.

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ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.

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