What Documents Do HOAs/COAs Need?
Homeowner associations (HOAs) and condominium associations (COAs) are unique organizations. They require a clear leadership structure, operating protocols, and a set of detailed rules and regulations. Each of these assets will help the association run efficiently and serve its members by creating a successful, thriving community.
As an HOA/COA manager, one of the first things you need to do for each client is familiarize yourself with their governing documentation. Governing documents outline the terms and conditions between the association and the residents who make up its membership. To run a great HOA/COA for your clients, you need to be well-versed in each document so you can enforce the association’s governing protocols. From time to time, you may also be called upon to help your client revise these documents or draft new ones.
So, what documents do HOA/COAs need? Each association will be unique. Governing documents will also vary based on your client’s location, as different states and counties can have different legal requirements for HOA/COAs. However, there are certain universal documents that all associations must have.
Whether you’re reviewing files for a new HOA/COA client or assisting a current client with their rules and regulations, make sure they have the following documents.
Articles of Incorporation
First, every HOA/COA must have Articles of Incorporation. Articles of Incorporation are a legal document created when the association is first formed by the developers. This will usually happen before any home or condominium is sold. Articles of Incorporation essentially give birth to the association and create a legal groundwork for establishing membership among property owners.
Articles of Incorporation, sometimes simply known as “Articles,” usually create a nonprofit entity for the association. They state basic information about the community. Articles can include the name of the association, its location, its purpose, and other relevant information such as the number of properties on the development site.
This document is usually brief and unlikely to need updating or revising. Articles of Incorporation are filed with the Secretary of State. They are also available as a matter of public record. As an HOA/COA manager, there may be times when a resident will ask you to provide a copy of certain governing documents. It will be very helpful to retain a copy of the documents online for quick access by any homeowner.
Next, it’s important for all of your clients to have HOA/COA bylaws. Bylaws are established as soon as the association files its Articles of Incorporation and properties are sold. There is no universal “format” for the documentation of bylaws, so each of your clients may have documents that look different. Still, bylaws are essential reading for any HOA/COA manager.
HOA/COA bylaws lay out the governing protocols for the association, its board members, and its residents. They define the rules and procedures for voting, board meetings, and other aspects of the association’s governing structure. For example, bylaws might specify protocols for creating the association’s annual budget or for setting membership fees.
As a manager, you may be directly affected by the association’s bylaws. Bylaws can include rules the board must follow when it hires a management company or renews contracts. HOA/COA bylaws may also establish your specific responsibilities and role within the organization.
For many associations, the bylaws are a “living document” that changes as the HOA/COA grows. Some associations revise their bylaws, or add new ones, during special annual meetings. When HOA/COA bylaws are changed, your client may ask you to act as a consultant. Your professional opinion as the association manager can help the board create new bylaws to run the HOA/COA more efficiently.
We also recommend familiarizing yourself with the association’s bylaws so you can assist residents. Residents are directly affected by the HOA/COA’s bylaws; however, the legal language used in bylaw documentation may be difficult for them to understand. Make sure you understand each of the bylaws so that if a resident has a question, you can offer clarification.
Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs)
The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions–also known as CC&Rs–is one of the longest documents an association needs. Often, it’s also the most legally complex. The easiest way to understand the Declaration of CC&Rs is to think of it as the Supreme Court of governing documents. If residents are having a dispute over an issue in the bylaws or rules and regulations, the information stated in the Declaration of CC&Rs will always overrule these other documents.
The Declaration of CC&Rs establishes which homes or condominiums are subject to the association’s governance. It also defines the common areas owned and operated by the HOA/COA. As a manager, this document specifies which areas fall under your responsibility.
Legally, most states require that all buyers receive a copy of the Declaration of CC&Rs prior to purchasing their property. Because this document can be amended, it may fall under your responsibility as HOA/COA manager to periodically distribute updated copies of the Declaration.
Rules and Regulations
Finally, all HOA/COAs need a document that states its rules and regulations. How are rules and regulations different from bylaws and the Declaration of CC&Rs? Usually, bylaws are more bureaucratic. They pertain to the association’s governing structure, such as policies for voting for board members. The Declaration of CC&Rs, meanwhile, is different from rules and regulations because its information is more generalized.
Rules and regulations cover day-to-day operations of the association’s community. For example, this document will state quiet hours, parking rules, and regulations about common areas. It can cover everything from cleaning up after pets to the proper use of a laundry room.
Make sure you study your clients’ rules and regulations closely. As the HOA/COA’s manager, you’ll need to enforce them and help residents who have disputes.
Post Documents Online with CINC Systems
Every HOA/COA needs governing documents. As you familiarize yourself with your clients’ documents, you can streamline operations by putting these documents online. Use CINC Systems to create an online web portal where board members and residents can view the HOA/COA’s documentation. Give it a try today! To request a free CINC Systems demo call (855) 943-8246.
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