What are CC&Rs? What are Governing Documents?
Each condominium homeowner’s association has a set of governing documents. These documents define the common and limited common property the homeowner’s association is responsible for, how the association handles business, and also dictate what you can or can’t do with your individual unit.
The primary governing document is the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions, also known as the Declaration or CC&Rs. This document is created and recorded when the condominium is established. It can be changed and amended over time through formal, recorded amendments. This document defines ownership for each individual unit within the condominium and the Homeowner’s Association which is responsible for managing and maintaining the condominium’s common property.
The Bylaws typically define how the Association handles business, the board of directors positions, terms and responsibilities and the location and notification requirements to owners for Association meetings.
The Articles of Incorporation are the officially recorded documents establishing the Association as a non-profit corporation and names the initial responsible agent who will receive notices on the HOA’s behalf.
The primary governing documents (Declaration and Bylaws) typically allow HOAs to establish rules, regulations, policies, and procedures to supplement the existing documents. They will dictate the process the Board must follow to establish any additional restriction. For example, the declaration may say the Board can create rules and regulations, but a formal declaration amendment could be necessary for something like creating a rental cap or rental restriction.
When you review the governing documents as a buyer, your goal should be to understand how the HOA is governed, what the voting requirements are for approving HOA business, and restrictions you may have on your private use. For example, decks or patios are often the responsibility of the HOA and you may be restricted from placing things like grills or potted plants outside your private unit.
When you consider buying a condo, understanding the governing documents can help you decide whether any current restrictions or limitations may not work for you. It's also important to understand that as an automatic member of the Association, you have the ability to run for a Board position where you can become involved in how the HOA operates, and ultimately decide how to manage the governing documents.