Now more than ever, it’s clear that the world—and the regions, cities, and communities we live in—can change in an instant. Whether it’s emerging technology or newly established laws, gradual changes in the world around us affect how we live our lives. As a board member, it’s crucial to keep a finger on the pulse of the ever-changing needs of your community. And in doing so, you must ensure the rules and restrictions in your governing documents are also keeping up with the times.
Outdated communication requirements, ambiguous or missing information, and vague developer declarant rights are all reasons to reexamine the governing documents. Work with residents to review existing rules, identify areas that may need adjustment, and examine processes needed to amend the regulations that don’t hold value for your association. Whether it’s the declaration, bylaws, policies, procedures, guidelines, or rules and regulations, these ten steps will help you prepare amendments to your homeowners’ association (HOA) documents in a timely and efficient manner.
1. Create a committee.
The best way to effectively accomplish everything needed to amend governing documents is to create an ad-hoc Document Review Committee. This committee will focus on writing a resolution, the proposed amendments to the documents at hand, which will ultimately need board approval. The committee should include a representative of each standing committee and the general manager of the association.
2. Set a timeline.
Because it’s so overwhelming, the task can easily be pushed aside or dragged out for months. To prevent this from happening, you should define a timeline for completion. Try to follow a one-month timeline, meeting on the same day and time once a week for two hours. Though it may be a lot to ask of the committee members, this will ensure focus on the task.
3. Specify the responsibility of the committee.
Evenly distribute the workload among all committee members, assigning each person sections of the documents to review and draft proposed amendments. Make sure the committee assigns a chairperson and secretary, as these positions will hold special roles. All of the information gathered from the document review should filter through the secretary, who will be responsible for tracking all recommended changes. The chairperson of the committee will keep the committee on track and set the timeline for discussion on each section of the documents.
4. Involve the association attorney.
Some legally binding documents, like the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs), will require legal oversight to amend. Allow the association’s attorney to review the documents alongside the committee, approve all changes, and attend a committee meeting to answer questions and provide guidance on the proposed amendments.
5. Distribute the amended documents.
It’s always a good idea to give homeowners a fair amount of time to review proposed changes to the rules and regulations they’re required to live by. Mail or email the revised document to all homeowners, give them ample time to review, and let them know they’ll have an opportunity to provide feedback at a public hearing.
6. Schedule a virtual public hearing.
The board should schedule a virtual public hearing where homeowners can voice their opinions, ask questions, or share their concerns. It’s important to make sure that all residents feel they are part of the process or given such an opportunity.
7. Review and implement homeowner feedback.
In a committee meeting, consider comments made at the public hearing and incorporate any revisions as appropriate.
8. Adopt amended documents.
Your governing documents will outline the last step for adopting amended documents. Prepare a resolution for action by the board or a vote of the association’s membership.
9. Obtain a final legal review.
Provide the final version of the revised documents to the association attorney for their review, instructing them to file the documents as amended with the appropriate governmental entities.
10. Distribute the newly amended documents.
Once the documents have been filed and appropriately vetted, make sure to share them with homeowners as soon as possible. Lastly, disband the committee.
Though amending HOA documents can be a lengthy, strenuous process, seeing the difference these updates make in your community makes it worth it. Homeowners feel valued, and board members are more willing to tackle additional changes in the future.