Living in an HOA has many benefits, one of the biggest being the hierarchy that exists within the community: managers, boards, and homeowners. Pre-set rules and by-laws inform homeowners what they can do and what they may need to ask permission for. The documents that lay out these rules and regulations are signed when someone purchases a home in an HOA. But, these rules are not always set in stone. Sometimes changes in our social climate or state legislation require modifications or amendments within these governing documents. We will discuss a few best practices for board members in more detail when amending a governing document.
Making amendments to a governing document is a tedious task. The activity can often cause unrest amongst board members who may potentially not agree with the change in the first place. Before amending a document, remember to review it to ensure there isn’t already a way of enforcing the rule of law. A quick review will help alleviate some unwanted steps when making changes.
Scheduled review of by-laws or community regulations is essential to maintaining an up-to-date set of rules for the community. Using community software like TownSq can help a great deal with these changes. With TownSq at your disposal, navigating rule changes becomes easy. For example, if board members are uneasy about how a change will affect the HOA and its homeowners, they can call for a vote among members directly inside TownSq. With a vote in process, a resolution can come about sooner, setting in motion the amendment to the by-laws or CC&Rs. A thorough review of any HOA legislative changes is always the first critical step to amending anything within governing documents.
The next most crucial step in the amendment process is complete transparency. Sharing details and reasonings to explain the changes that are made is the best way to ensure everyone has had equal exposure to any amendment.
If you’re pushing for an amendment in your HOA, there’s a chance that others in the community share your sentiment. Getting these individuals to support your change will be vital. Below, you will find a few examples of strategies you can utilize to gain support for your proposed amendment:
- Bring in a professional to help make your case to your colleagues on the HOA board. Show the benefits of whatever change you are recommending by letting their expertise do the talking.
- Spread the word. Spreading awareness about the change you’re trying to make is old-fashioned but proven effective, especially in smaller communities. Whether you send an email, leave pamphlets in the clubhouse, or go door-to-door, spreading the word will help you gain support.
- Make sure to hold a membership or town hall meeting to ensure the most significant volume of members has heard your message. This will show your leadership and communicate to fellow board members that this change you are proposing is significant.
Documents to Amend:
CC&Rs and By-laws
CC&Rs and Bylaws; are essentially the rules and regulations governing the community and are often supported by the law. The items on this document are legal guidelines that members of an HOA MUST follow. CC&R documents are not minor subjects to change; they require increased attention to detail in comparison to an HOA handbook. The items covered in CC&Rs and by-laws are more likely to be adjusted when there is a change in legislation.
Important to note: reviewing how often changes can be made according to CC&Rs is also very important. If your governing documents only allow for changes once a quarter or once a year, this may be the first amendment your HOA community needs.
The HOA Handbook
The HOA handbook references CC&Rs and by-laws, but its main focus is to showcase the day-to-day rules. Items you can find in the HOA handbook are listed below:
- Parking regulations;
- Quiet hours;
- Trash days;
- Snow removal;
- And more.
These items are more of a guide on living in the community than legally binding rules and regulations. The laws in the handbook are often subject to change when one (or many) members have a complaint or grievance. When issues are presented to the board, they discuss them at the next meeting and determine whether to make the change.
The board will also discuss if the change is necessary, potentially leading to a final decision on the matter. If the vote passes, for example, and the board decides to enforce the amendment, then the CC&Rs and by-laws must be referenced and suitably amended as well.
Who Should be Involved in Amendments?
For obvious reasons, the board is the immediate governing power in the community. They will be the ones who ultimately control the result, as board members are the ones that put forth the votes and decide whether an issue requires an amendment. Homeowners should always have access to CC&R’s and a handbook in an HOA to ensure everyone understands the HOA guidelines.
The homeowners elect board members in an HOA community to ensure proper representation on community decisions. A reasonable HOA will consist of homeowners who care and a board who wants to create the best possible sense of community. With this in mind, it’s essential to remember that amending the HOA rules and regulations is a joint effort between the board and the homeowners.
Using TownSq to make Amendments Easier
Amendments are stressful, but they are necessary. With TownSq, amending a governing document is easier than ever. With multiple tools that make the lives of board members and homeowners easier, such as digital voting, architectural requests, violations/inspections, online documents, and more, board members can draft an amendment to the CC&Rs and update the record within TownSq quickly and efficiently. Everyone in the HOA can be notified directly within the TownSq app about the change, and they can even view the change within the app, voice frustration, or ask for more information by commenting on it.
Watch a demo of TownSq in action below.
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