Amending an HOA’s covenants and bylaws

First off, covenants, conditions, and restrictions or CC&Rs aren’t the same as bylaws, although a lot of people confuse the two as being one and the same. To clarify, CC&Rs are the rules and regulations that the HOA and homeowners must follow. These documents define the obligations of the homeowners association towards its members, and the members’ rights and responsibilities as part of the HOA.

Bylaws, on the other hand, basically cover the community as an entity and under this, you can find regulations concerning the HOA’s Board of Directors from the number of directors that can be on the Board to qualifications of homeowners who can serve on the Board.

The process of amending bylaws and covenants should be initiated by the Board of the Directors or any of its members. Here are a few things homeowners should know about making changes on the covenants and/or bylaws:

1. The purpose should be clearly communicated

First of all, covenants and bylaws shouldn’t be amended on a whim. There should be a clear purpose for it, and this purpose should serve the greater good of the community and the homeowners. Secondly, such undertaking should be shared to the homeowners. It will not do the HOA good if the homeowners learn about this through hearsay or worse, after the changes have been made and implementation of the changes is already underway.

Homeowners associations should also be transparent about their actions and activities.

2. Changes are usually undertaken to amend outdated laws

There are several reasons why an HOA Board may decide to amend its covenants or bylaws, but usually, it’s because some stipulations have become outdated or federal/state laws have changed and these must be applied to the HOA’s existing CC&Rs and/or bylaws.

There are also instances when covenants were amended because of an issue raised by majority of the homeowners. Issues may include lifting of restrictions on exterior paint or landscaping, or other such limitations.

3. Covenants have expired

Covenants have an expiration date although some HOAs may have overlooked this little bit of fact because the validity of HOA covenants is usually 30 years. If a board member is interested in amending the HOA’s covenants, they should look into the covenant’s expiration date; and if a homeowner wishes to check if an HOA’s restriction is valid, they should likewise research on their HOA’s covenant expiry.

For more on HOA CC&Rs and bylaws, you may visit our community news page.