How to make changes to your HOAs CC&Rs

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A civilized society can only function properly when the inhabitants live by a set of rules set forth by that society.

If you become a homeowner or resident that is part of a community association then you will be governed by a specific set of rules spelled out in the Covenants Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs).
It is the function of a HOA to write and vote on the rules contained within the CC&Rs. The HOA also has the responsibility to enforce those rules. These rules are part of ownership legal documents and are sometimes referred to as the bylaws or house rules. Because they are legal documents they are also legally enforceable. The only exception would be to any laws that are in conflict with any federal, state or local laws. It might not be against the state law for you to have an oil leak on your driveway but it could be against a CC&R regulation if you don’t clean up that oil leak within a certain amount of time.
According to those same laws you could be fined for an infraction and in some extreme cases even be evicted from the community.
Changing the CC&Rs
As part of the condition for ownership their prospective owner not only has to receive a copy of these rules but they also need to sign a statement declaring that they have read and understand each one of the rules.In other words, ignorance of the rule is not an excuse to break the rule.
A new homeowner who becomes a resident at a community that is governed by CC&Rs might discover that they don’t like a lot of the rules contained within that binder of guidelines.
The best course of action for changing a rule is to work within the boundaries of this CC&Rs itself.
Each set of those bylaws will have a specific procedure on how a rule can be changed. The distinction needs to be made as to whether or not change is warranted. It doesn’t make sense to constantly change CC&Rs rules just to follow the whim of an individual homeowner. Every change that is made to a set of CC&Rs has a ripple effect of legal ramifications. These changes will not only have to be written into the bylaws but they’ll also have to be reviewed by the HOA’s attorney.
Once the new regulation is deemed acceptable then it has to be distributed amongst the homeowners. You could see how a small matter can turn into a costly one especially when you have to involve lawyers and distribution fees.
Waiving the Rules
There are some instances where a CC&R rule can be waived when voted on by the board. Suppose there is a restriction in place that no dog can be over 30 pounds. However, a homeowner might bring in a pup that grows to be 35 or 40 pounds. From a legal standpoint they are technically breaking the rule. But because it is such a minor infraction the HOA board could make an official waiver for this particular incident without having to change to CC&Rs.
Of course, the “slippery slope” idea then applies: If you wave the rule for one resident you’ll have to waive the rule for another resident. Before you know it the rule itself will be no and void.
An HOA needs to take into account the concerns of its residents and can’t be overly strident with regard to enforcement because that just creates a negative living environment for everyone. In the final analysis the majority should always rule when it comes to changes in the CC&Rs.
This article is provided by The Management Trust.