It’s that special time of year where it’s time to break out the sun block and the Yeti coolers. But what does this mean for a Condominium or Homeowners’ Association attorney? Fielding question after question from residents who want to solve all of their Association’s issues before making the trek up north. A lot of the questions we receive from owners are very similar:

  • “Can my Association amend our Declaration this way?”
  • “Can the owners call a member meeting without the Board of Directors?”
  • “Was this meeting properly noticed?”

Nine times out of ten, my answer is always the same: “it depends on the documents.”

Governing Rules

Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations are unique in that Associations can essentially make their own rules. When Associations are formed, Association documents are written and recorded in the public records. These Association documents act like contracts between the Association and the homeowners within the Association. While statutes exist to control Associations, most of these statutes act as default provisions in the event the Association documents do not cover a particular issue.

While some Associations may have additional documents, the three main documents for Associations include the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (often called the Declaration).

Articles of Incorporation

The Articles of Incorporation identify the essential elements of the association and must be filed with the Secretary of State upon incorporation. The Articles lay out the identifying features of an association, such as the association’s name and business address, purpose, duration, and the names and addresses of the initial directors.

Bylaws

The Bylaws of the association provide the procedures for how the association is internally governed. The Bylaws outline detailed information about how meetings are called, how frequently meetings occur, how officers and directors are elected, and proxy and quorum requirements.

Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions

The Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, also called the Declaration, is the supreme governing document for the association. The Declaration subjects parcels of land to the control of the association, and lays out the association’s and owner’s respective rights and responsibilities. When there are conflicting provisions in the governing documents, the Declaration trumps all other documents.

Bottom Line

While the documents may not be comprehensive enough to answer every single question that comes up, most questions regarding an Association can be answered by reviewing and understanding the governing documents.

For more complex questions or questions that require a legal interpretation of document provisions, I would recommend contacting an attorney experienced in the realm of Condominium and Homeowners’ Association law. I may be reached at 239-344-1164 or by email at kaylee.tuck@henlaw.com.