All of us who have lived within a community association for single-family residences or condominiums understand that there are times when change is necessary. When you desire change, it is never best 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—what are the best ways for a homeowner to make changes in their community? And how do these changes happen? In this article, we will give you some tips on how to make a change in your homeowners association as a homeowner.
Change the Bylaws—by Running for the Board of Directors
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 election to the association’s board of directors.
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.
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 your association’s bylaws or covenants, there will be a process laid that you need to follow to make a change to the rules—or even the governing document itself.
Even though associations are meant to represent the interest of homeowners, declarations of covenants and restrictions submitted by developers are crafted more for the benefit of the developer more than the community’s homeowners. If you need to make a change to these covenants, look for a section in them that lays out a schedule for passing along the control of the board of directors from the developer to residents.
These sorts of transitions are usually not immediate. They are typically gradual and dependant on the sale of units or properties within a community. If you would like to make an immediate change, start a campaign and run for a position on this board as soon as you can. The first board members usually have the greatest amount of influence, because they typically determine a lot of the community’s long-term success through the rules they implement. These early board members often have greater influence with developers, because they can propose changes by showing the developer that certain changes can make the community more desirable to prospective buyers.
Ask Older Members to Participate in the Process
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 community ages, 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 and need to be applied to every homeowner equally, regardless of the situation. Before making any sort of drastic change, always attempt respectful mediation measures and avoid changing management companies unless as a last resort.
How HOA Management Can Help In Your Community Progress
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