Who Makes the Rules for Your Association?

Jan 27, 2015

The following article, by CAI Business Partner member attorney Hal Barrow, Esq., is reprinted with permission. 

Who Makes the Rules for Your Association? 
by Hal Barrow, Esq. | Barrowlaw | www.barrowlaw.com

Homeowners often ask about the rules in their community, and how they are made. Sometimes it's about pets, and other times it's about renters. Here's an example: 

We have a Board of 5 members that is charged with managing the business, finances, budget, operations, maintenance, and other affairs of the association. The Bylaws of the association state that the "The Board has the Duties and Powers (among other things) for the promulgation, distribution and enforcement of the Rules and Regulations governing the details of the use and operation of the Property, subject to the right of a majority of Owners to change any such rules."  

The Board is proposing strict changes to the current Rules and Regulations. According to their interpretation of the Bylaws, these new Rules and Regulations can be implemented by a vote of only the Board members and without the involvement, comments, or majority approval of all unit members. Can you please comment on your interpretation of this scenario? So, who has the power to adopt the Rules? 

In a typical community association, the Executive Board decides on the Rules and Regulations, according to the parameters of your Governing Documents (Declaration, Bylaws). The Board sets the Rules, as long as those Rules are authorized by and not inconsistent with the other Governing Documents. Your Bylaws may speak to what role the Owners have, but it is not unusual for the Bylaws to be silent on that subject. Then, it is up to the discretion of the Board as to whether and how the homeowners are involved in the process. 

Growing up, one of my least favorite phrases was "because I'm your [insert: father/mother], and I said so!" They didn't really say it (at least not much), but the phrase has lingered throughout the years as an example of how not to explain something. The same goes for your community's Rules. How, a Board goes about developing and implementing its Rules and Regulations can have a great effect on how the community works. Involvement leads to ownership, and ownership leads to compliance.

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