Being a part of a community association can be a wonderful thing. An HOA can provide stability that gives you and your neighbors a strong commitment to making the community a great place to live. The boundaries set in place are oftentimes great tools to bring like-minded people together to create a happy community. However, in any community there will be conflict. Inconsistencies often appear in HOA governing documents, and it is oftentimes up to the homeowner to sort out which documents hold the most weight in order to get to the bottom of a difficult conflict or inconsistency.
When sorting out conflicting information in your HOA, you can follow this list to determine which documents have more weight. These are the documents are listed from the least important to the most important.
Board Rules and Resolutions
The board rules and resolutions are the policies that are put together by the board to govern such things as enforcing the covenant and regulating the use of common areas in the community. Although these rules and resolutions are still important, they hold the least weight of all the documents.
Next on the hierarchy is the bylaws. These usually concern regulation of community meetings, how many people must attend these meetings for them to be considered valid, and guidelines regarding the record keeping of the community.
Articles of Formation
Slightly more important than the bylaws is the articles of formation document, which is the document that legally certifies the association as an organization. This document is filed with the state, and is sometimes referred to as the Certificate of Formation.
Deed restrictions, commonly referred to as CC&R’s, are the documents that lay out rules and regulations regarding how the land is used. These are the last of the documents actually associated with the organization itself and have the most important of all of these documents when it comes to conflict. These are oftentimes very difficult to get past or amend.
Recorded Map, Plot, or Plan
These documents show the layout of the land before it became the property of the Association Owner. They hold more power because they show where the property is located and lay out who is responsible for the upkeep of all of the areas on the map.
Federal and State Laws
Most important of all the documents, are the laws laid down at the Federal and State levels. If there is a conflict at this level, the Federal and State laws will overrule all of the other documents.
It is important to consider this hierarchy when resolving conflict issues within an association. Oftentimes, the hierarchy will speak for itself and make sorting out these inconsistencies a little easier.