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5 Places to Find Your HOA’s Governing Documents

Overhead view of a neighborhood with white houses, green trees and roadways.

Every homeowners’ association (HOA) is governed by a set of documents that define the authority of the association and detail what board members and residents can and cannot do. Usually drafted by attorneys and hundreds of pages long, HOA governing documents are complex and may be challenging to decode. However, understanding the information within the governing documents is crucial to a successful HOA living experience.

Read on to learn more about HOA governing documents, HOA governing document hierarchy, how to find your HOA governing documents, and more.

What are HOA Governing Documents?

In short, HOA governing documents are legally binding documents that explain how a community is governed. They set expectations for residents, board members, and vendors and establish how the HOA is run. Designed to promote harmony, offer guidance, and maintain consistency, all HOA residents are required to abide by and thoroughly understand their community’s governing documents. Failure to comply may lead to violations and other consequences.  

What’s an HOA violation? Learn this and much more in our ebook, “Top Frequently Asked Questions About HOA Violations.”

HOA Governing Document Hierarchy

While every association is different, the following are typically included in HOA governing documents and arranged in this hierarchy:

  • Federal and state laws. Laws and statutes passed by federal or state authorities are most important and above any HOA’s documents.
  • Recorded Map, Plat, or Plan. This diagram shows the location of units, lots, common areas, limited common areas, and other community structures.   
  • Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). CC&Rs detail the community’s development, operation, and configuration and cover the rights and obligations of the association, board, and residents. You’ll find information about fees, maintenance, architectural standards, and more. 
  • Articles of Incorporation. Filed with the designated secretary of state, these bring the corporation into existence and define its basic purpose.
  • Bylaws. The formal rulebook for the HOA’s day-to-day management, bylaws establish how the association is governed and feature specifics about board nomination processes, election frequency, term lengths, quorum requirements, and more.
  • Rules and Regulations. Additional restrictions that help reinforce the CC&Rs, the rules and regulations may include guidelines related to fences, parking, amenities, pets, and more. 

Want to learn more about HOA rules and regulations? Check out our ebook, “HOA Rule Creation & Enforcement: A Beginner’s Guide for Board Members.”

Are HOA Documents Public Record?

Most HOA documents are public record, including governing documents. Some states only require the HOA to make certain documents public, while others can be kept confidential. These confidential records can include things like board meeting minutes, financial records, and insurance claims. 

How to Find HOA Governing Documents

All HOA governing documents, including any rules and regulations, are typically provided to homeowners at the time of closing. However, these forms can sometimes go missing. Here’s how to find HOA governing documents:

  1. Go to Your Association’s Website 

In today’s day and age, HOAs are taking advantage of technology and using digital platforms, like community websites, to communicate, attract residents, and share information. Website requirements and restrictions vary by location, but many associations make their HOA governing documents and other forms available on their website. In fact, some states actually require this within their statutes.

  1. Research Public Records

Because most governing documents must be filed with one or more governmental entities, many documents are public records and can be purchased for a small fee through your local government offices. Start first with the county in which you purchased, which can be found in your deed records, and phone the professionals within that office for assistance. Keep in mind that every state is different, and some records are considered confidential, so access may be denied without a court order.

  1. Reach out to Your Title Company or Real Estate Agent  

HOA governing documents detail the living standards of a community and should be provided and reviewed by any new HOA homebuyer before closing. That means the title company or real estate agent who oversaw your property purchase, buying process, and final transaction should have and be able to give you a copy of your HOA’s governing documents.

  1. Call Your Management Company 

Many managed communities partner with a third-party professional management company to help fulfill board tasks and daily responsibilities. These companies can help with financial management, meeting planning and oversight, vendor contracts, maintenance, and more. Due to their industry knowledge and partnership with your community, you’re often able to purchase a new set of documents directly through their office or at least get guidance on how to accomplish this task.

  1. Ask a Board Member 

As elected community leaders, board members should be well-versed in HOA governing documents and know exactly where to find them. They should actively encourage familiarity with governing documents to foster transparency, prevent conflicts, and support education. If board members have made themselves available to you, reach out and inquire about obtaining your governing documents.

Learn More About HOA Governing Documents

It’s important to be familiar with HOA governing documents and know how to get HOA governing documents. The governing documents establish how your association is run and set expectations, and when these expectations are met, communities are in a better position to function more efficiently.

If you want to learn more about HOA governing documents, read our comprehensive ebook, “A Breakdown of HOA Governing Documents.” In it, you’ll learn everything you need to know about governing documents, how they affect you, and more.