Condo & HOA Governing Documents

When Americans purchase homes in homeowner and condominium associations, they contractually agree to become part of an association of their fellow owners, all of whom are bound by certain governing documents. Some of these documents are filed with the appropriate state or local government agency and can only be altered through a prescribed process.

Articles of incorporation, also known as charters, establish the association as a non-stock and not-for-profit corporation and give official life to the association as a legal entity. This is necessary because the association holds title to the land comprising the common area.

The plat, filed in the land records of the local court or agency, provides a line drawing that shows the location of buildings and units as well as common areas such as roads, parking lots and open spaces. The plat should not be confused with the site development plan (or site plan), which is a similar document showing the overall project and indicating approval by the local building authority.

The bylaws are operational guidelines, dealing with organizational and administrative aspects of the community, such as elections, meetings and the composition of the association board.

The rules and regulations provide a detailed explanation of what is and isn’t permitted in a community. These provisions are typically adopted by the association board, whose members are elected by their neighbors to govern in the best interests of the community as a whole.

The declaration, commonly known as the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), is a legal contract that binds homeowners to the association and the association to each of the homeowners. To a large extent, the CC&Rs identify units and common areas, define maintenance obligations of owners and the association and otherwise restrict how the land can be used.

Published by: Community Associations Institute – www.caionline.org

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