March 25

Can HOA Governing Documents Be Amended?

Homeowner associations (HOAs) need guidance and structure to help run the safe and comfortable communities in Charlotte, NC. The bylaws and the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) are among the documents that govern them. That being said, homeowners often ask their HOA if there are options to amend the existing HOA rules. These include changing existing provisions and introducing new ones with relative simplicity if certain conditions are met.

Community association homeowners may be pleased by this news: HOA governing documents can be changed. This is especially vital information if the association has homeowners who are opposed to the revisions. Still, boards can also pass resolutions changing the rules without the approval of all of the association's members. Many people believe that once an HOA document is established, it cannot be modified - and they aren't far wrong!

The bylaws of a homeowners’ organization determine how the community runs. It specifies how many board members can serve at any time, how often board elections must be held, meeting conditions, and each board member's responsibilities.

In many cases, these bylaws were written in the association's development and serve other functions. It's only natural that each of the documents will need to be revised at some point, and each bylaw is unique in terms of what it can do and how it can be updated.

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What Is an HOA Amendment? 

An association may choose to update or restate its CC&Rs to reflect changes in the legislation, meet situations in the development that did not exist when it was created, or modify the association's and its members' rights and obligations.


What Is the Difference Between a Covenant and an HOA?

An HOA is a non-profit organization that protects the property values in a neighborhood. HOAs are responsible for enforcing community agreements and maintaining common amenities such as pools and clubhouses. An HOA may also be responsible for maintenance and safety issues.

A restrictive covenant is a contract you enter into with an HOA that restricts the use of a property. Members of your HOA vote on restrictive covenants, which all homeowners must follow in the neighborhood. A restrictive covenant may prohibit you from doing certain things with your property, such as raising cattle. A restrictive covenant will also specify what you must do, such as cut your grass regularly.


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Can Homeowners Association Change Rules?

Usually, the Board or Directors can amend the Rules and Regulations. Still, the Declaration and Bylaws require a vote of the homeowners—often a considerable number, such as 2/3 or 3/4 of all owners. If the modification you seek is already in the declaration, updating it will be far more expensive and complicated, so think about whether the change you're suggesting is essential enough to the community to warrant the work and cost.

Another crucial aspect of comprehending HOA documentation is understanding why certain constraints were imposed in the first place. These documents aren't created overnight, and your community's guidelines have been carefully crafted.


What Does Amended Declaration Mean?

An Amended Declaration is a version of a previous declaration that has been changed to fix minor errors or add information. Since developers may want to update a declaration after it has been filed, the original declaration should include a paragraph that specifies the requirements and process for amending it. The revised version of the paper contains all of the additions and modifications.


Can Covenants Be Amended?

To change a covenant, all parties must agree to it unless there is an express agreement to the contrary. Others cannot change one party’s rights without that party's consent; each benefitted party has the right to insist on the covenant's execution. Others cannot place a larger load on a burdened lot without the consent of the burdened owner.

However, amendments to residential subdivision covenants are frequently permitted without the owners' majority consent. The covenants may provide that a board of representatives from the subdivision's homeowners has the authority to change or construct specific types of covenants. The covenants may allow a majority of homeowners to change them or a certain number of homeowners. Such clauses are legal and enforceable.

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How Do I Amend an HOA Covenant?

You might be wondering if there is a method to change the CC&Rs in your HOA. It might be a time-consuming and expensive legal process to amend the document, and you’ll almost always require professional help to make sure the ruleset update is done correctly.

Here's a simple 4-step strategy to assist Homeowner Associations in amending their CC&Rs:

1. Proposal

Clearly state what the rule revision is about. Plan to see if there are any steps you'll need to do to receive approval. The proposal describing the desired adjustments is then presented to the board.

2. Meeting

The board must offer the floor to homeowners for debate and questions at the meeting when they will seek to approve the rule.

3. Vote

Homeowners have the option of voting anonymously for or against the amendments. The CC&Rs will determine the proportion required to approve the plan.

4. Record

All HOA members should get the revised version of the CC&Rs and/or bylaws.


Can You Refuse to Join a Homeowners Association?

It might be possible to get out of HOA regulations if you're interested in a property in an HOA community. Still, it'll be difficult and require a thorough study of HOA rules and your community's specific bylaws. It may be impossible to opt-out of an HOA in many situations.

When you buy a Charlotte NC home, the CCRs will tell you if it's currently part of an HOA or could be in the future. If you were unaware of an existing HOA or the possibility of one forming, you’d be less than pleased when an organization begins to demand money.

It is fraud to trick you into joining an HOA. You can persuade a judge to let you leave by showing that you were never informed about the HOA. However, before you go to court and spend a lot of money, make sure you weren't notified. Examine all of the documents you signed with an attorney to ensure you didn't miss anything.

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Can HOA Fees Go Up?

With a few exceptions, an HOA can usually raise dues as much as it needs to achieve its annual budget. Paying dues regularly is an unavoidable component of living in a planned community. Before buying in, you can (and should) discover what the current dues are.

You must first learn what an HOA is and how it calculates the number of dues needed before you can understand why your HOA may hike dues and assessments.


How Often Should Bylaws Be Updated?

While it is recommended that an organization's bylaws be reviewed regularly (at least every 3-5 years or whenever there is a known change in the law that may affect the organization's governance), specific provisions that need to be changed more frequently may belong in a separate policy document.


Conclusion

The laws and regulations in place at the local level may need to be changed over time. Unlike the formal documents that constitute the organization and govern its terms of operation, community rules and regulations address matters more directly relevant to members' and residents' day-to-day lives and coexistence. 

While hiring legal advice is one of the more expensive aspects of the amendment process, it is also essential. A skilled attorney can be extremely useful in assisting the board in understanding and following the state's legal procedures and avoiding any community issues.


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