Community and condominium associations are implemented by the developer of the community or condominium. For some associations, this can mean that they are governed by documents that may be quite old, outdated or not the right fit.
The good news is that the members of community and condominium associations can make changes to their declarations, covenants, bylaws, rules and regulations (commonly referred to as governing documents.) The members can amend, modify and revise various elements of their governing documents.
However, any changes must be done thoughtfully and with strong attention to proper procedure. To ensure that revisions are legally binding and also acceptable to the association members, it helps to understand how any association changes must be made.
First, understand community and condominium association terms. Be educated when reading governing documents to fully grasp how your association is governed.
Second, help owners understand that their membership began immediately on taking title to their properties and doesn’t end until they sell their properties. This means that all owners are invested in changes made as well as operations of the association.
Third, know the unique requirements of your association’s current governing documents. The declaration,s, covenants and bylaws will usually indicate within themselves how they are to be amended. Keep in mind, any amendments or changes cannot conflict with applicable federal or state laws governing associations. The board of directors typically has the authority to makes changes to the rules and regulations.
The declaration or covenants are the highest-level governing documents your association will possess. Changing declarations or covenants can take time and be expensive, but it can be worth doing. It is important to start by agreeing as an association why the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) should be changed. After that, it is highly likely that an attorney will need to be consulted and involved. An association manager, such as CAMS, can help your association make sure it is following protocol as well as facilitate all points of contact to allow the changes to occur smoothly and properly.
If your association is primarily interested in changing the amount of annual assessments, the membership usually ratifies a budget adopted by the board, rather than amending the governing documents. A meeting of the members will be called to ratify the budget. The budget is ratified unless the majority of all owners vote at an annual meeting or a special budget meeting not to approve the budget. A quorum does not have to be present at the meeting. Should the members not ratify the budget, the preceding year’s budget is used until a new budget is ratified.
For other changes, it helps to use the expertise of a professional management company, such as CAMS. With 25 years in the business, we can guide community and condominium associations through important and complicated changes to their governing documents.
And remember that the best way for owners to have input into their association, including ongoing decisions and any proposed changes, is to provide opportunities and encouragement to join the board of directors or a committee.
Any community or community association becomes a great community when the members are active and participate.
Mike Stonestreet is a 28-year veteran of the professional HOA management industry who has achieved one of the highest education-based designations in the field, that of Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM). Community Association Management Services (CAMS) has been a leading association management company since its inception in 1991. CAMS is a trusted provider of management services for more than 265 associations throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. To find out how CAMS can benefit your community, call (910) 256-2021, email [email protected], or visit www.CAMSmgt.com.
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