As a homeowner in an HOA, you probably don’t agree with all the rules and regulations governing your community. But, is there something you can do about it? Can homeowners change rules in an HOA?
How Can Homeowners Change Rules in Your HOA
Anyone who has lived within a community association for single-family residences or condominiums understands that there are times when change is necessary. You might want to change the operating rules or the bylaws of the association.
When you desire change, it is never right to start with extreme measures, such as filing a lawsuit. It is important to remember that the people in your community are your neighbors and friends, so the process should ideally go smoothly.
Having said that, the inevitable question arises—can homeowners change rules in an association? The short answer is yes, but it involves some work. So, what are the best ways for a homeowner to make changes in their community? And how do these changes happen? Here are some tips on how to change HOA rules and HOA bylaws.
1. Check Your State Laws
Some state laws require HOA boards to get approval from homeowners on rule changes. To figure out if your association falls under this umbrella, check your state laws.
While you, as a homeowner, may not have a direct impact on what the rules say, you can make a difference with your vote. If you dislike a certain change in rules, you can vote against it.
There are also some states where HOAs must notify homeowners of any impending rule changes. The board must then provide homeowners with a 30-day period to make their comments and give their two cents. After this, the board will take all input into consideration before making a decision.
You might even have the ability to call a special meeting to reverse a change in rules. For instance, according to the California Civil Code §4365, a majority vote of a quorum of members can effectively reverse rule changes, provided they fulfill the stipulations set forth in the code.
2. Understand What Your Community’s Bylaws Say
As of 2019, there are over 150,000 community associations in the United States, with more than 40 million residents. Community associations are meant to represent the common interest of all residents, so all changes in the bylaws or governing documents that control the association’ operations must be enforced equally on all residents.
To make quick and effective change in your community, you first have to get to know your association’s bylaws, covenants, and rules. In those documents, there will be a process laid that you need to follow to make a change to the rules—or even the governing document itself.
Before calling for any changes, though, you must understand why the rules and restrictions exist in the first place. Remember that these governing documents were not created in haste. A lot of thought was put into drafting them, so there must be a reason behind every rule.
3. Talk to Your HOA Board
After checking your state laws and homeowners association bylaws, you can then craft your rule change. Make sure your proposed change is reasonable and enforceable. It should also not come into conflict with any existing rules or laws. Most of all, it should be for the betterment of the community.
Submit your proposal to the board ahead of time. You can also ask to present your case at the next open board meeting. When explaining your rule change, make sure to shed light on why you think the change is necessary.
List down practical reasons and how the community will benefit as a whole. Better yet, talk to your fellow homeowners about the proposed change. If they are in favor of it, ask them to sign a petition to support your cause. You can even urge them to attend the open board meeting to back you up.
4. Don’t Forget About the Elders
From time to time, existing bylaws and covenants need to be changed to align with the updated needs of the community and evolving laws. As a community age, its maintenance needs to increase and its population itself usually ages.
If you are a homeowner in an older community association, you should consider asking older members to participate in the process by requesting rules that fit their needs.
Community associations usually run into the most trouble when they have subpar management and poorly or vaguely written rules. Remember—all rules and covenants must be for the benefit of the community.
The HOA board must apply these rules and covenants to every homeowner equally, regardless of their situation. Before making any sort of drastic change, always attempt respectful mediation measures and avoid changing management companies unless as a last resort.
5. Run for a Board Position
Usually, associations will require a percentage of the board to vote to change a rule and a percentage of the community members to vote on changes to the community bylaws. So, what is the easiest way to change the community rules or bylaws? The easiest way to change rules or bylaws in a community association, by far, is to run for a position in the association’s board of directors during an HOA election.
Unfortunately, not everybody can run for their HOA’s board of directors. Work, family, friends—life gets busy! Other people just simply are not a good fit for the job. Either way, if running for a seat on the HOA’s board is not an option for you, speak to your neighbors, persuade them that change is needed, and start an organic, grassroots movement that includes petitions and regular attendance at all board meetings.
When Homeowners Change Rules in the Community
In most associations, homeowners change rules all the time. It only really takes a good amount of effort and determination to get results. As a homeowner, if you feel your community needs a rule change, speak up. A homeowners association with active and engaged residents is more likely to achieve success. Just follow these tips so that you can make a significant difference in your community.
- 6 Tips On How Can HOA Enforce Rules And Regulations
- Can Homeowners Get A Traffic Ticket In An HOA?
- Which HOA Documents Take Precedence Over the Others?