There are plenty of advantages to living in an HOA community. Properties tend to maintain their value much better in HOA environments, and there are also shared amenities such as pools, parks, and clubhouses. That’s to say nothing of the sense of community you can enjoy when you live in a Homeowners Association, surrounded by neighbors who take a similar pride in their homes.
In order to preserve these benefits, it’s important that everyone commit to the same basic rules, restrictions, and governing authorities. These rules are codified in a set of governing documents, which include HOA bylaws.
The bylaws are often confused with other important documents, like the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). For homeowners, it’s important to know exactly what the bylaws are and why they matter.
To clarify this or any other HOA term, feel free to reach out to the Board or to your HOA management company. If you’re in the Carolinas, consider entrusting your HOA inquiries to Kuester Management Group. We’re proud to be an HOA management company in Charlotte NC, Huntersville NC, and Myrtle Beach SC, in addition to offering HOA management in Fort Mill SC. We’re always happy to answer questions about HOA rules or procedures.
HOA Bylaws, Explained
First things first: When we talk about HOA bylaws, exactly what do we mean?
Simply put, the bylaws of an HOA deal with operational issues, especially those involving the Board of Directors. In other words, the bylaws explain how the HOA runs on a day-to-day basis. For instance, bylaws might outline:
- The process for how members can vote on new Board members.
- Term limits for Board members.
- Details for meeting protocols and quorums.
- Duties attributed to Board members.
Does an HOA Need Bylaws?
Homeowners sometimes wonder: Are bylaws really necessary?
Keep in mind that the bylaws are a kind of charter, or rule book, dictating how the community runs behind the scenes. The bylaws provide members with clarity about the kinds of action that Board members are authorized to take, while also ensuring that Board members have some accountability to the broader membership.
Without bylaws, HOAs face a number of risks, including overall lack of structure, inefficient communication, and Board members who act without accountability. These things can fundamentally compromise the integrity of the HOA.
What Does the Law Say?
It’s also worth noting that, in most states, it’s legally mandatory for HOAs to have bylaws in place. Keep in mind that HOAs are legally classified as non-profits, and it’s widely accepted that non-profits must be bound by a clear set of bylaws.
Who Enforces Bylaws?
Another important question: Who’s in charge of enforcing the provisions contained within this legal document? The short answer: Enforcement of the bylaws usually falls to the Board, though specific tasks can be delegated to committees. For example, there may be a committee tasked with managing special assessments, another charged with organizing voting operations for the next election, and so forth.
Alternatively, a Board may delegate certain tasks to an external HOA management company.
Are Bylaws Public Information?
Because they do not detail tax or real estate information, bylaws are usually not required to be public. However, in the interest of transparency, many HOAs do choose to make their bylaws available to members and to prospective members.
What Should Your HOA Bylaws Include?
Voting rights, meeting frequency, quorum requirements… there’s a lot to encompass in a simple governing document. To help you understand your HOA bylaws, here’s a quick breakdown of some of the information that’s likely contained therein.
- Basic information about the community. Bylaws usually begin by denoting the name and location of the HOA, along with the fiscal year in which the Association was established.
- Membership information. Bylaws should also outline the process for becoming a member, the dues that members must pay, and the rights/amenities associated with membership.
- Board duties. What’s expected of the Board? What actions must be taken up at Board meetings in order to preserve property values throughout the HOA?
- Officer duties. In particular, what are the duties assigned to the President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary of the Board?
- Meeting information. Bylaws should outline meeting frequency, including Board meetings, HOA-wide meetings, and any special meetings that might be required.
- Requirements for HOA members. Bylaws can also provide some basic expectations for members, along with information about what action the Board can take to address non-compliance (whether that means suspending community pool access or taking more extensive legal action).
- Amendments. What’s the process for passing an amendment to the bylaws? What are the legal requirements for making permanent changes to the HOA’s governing documents?
Frequently Asked Questions
Are HOA bylaws the same thing as covenants?
While there are often areas of overlap between bylaws and covenants, the two documents are not exactly the same. Covenants usually deal more with formal real estate matters and assessment obligations. Covenants are filed with the state, and are considered to be public information.
How can I get a copy of my HOA’s bylaws?
In most HOAs, you can secure a copy of the bylaws simply by reaching out to the Board or to the homeowner association management company.
Are HOA bylaws legally binding?
Generally speaking, these essential documents are considered to be legally binding and enforceable.