The CC&Rs of a homeowners association are a common point of contention among members. Given that this document plays such a critical role in the operations of an HOA, all homeowners should familiarize themselves with its contents.
What Are CC&Rs?
CC&Rs stand for the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. In a homeowners association, it is a document that dictates what homeowners can and can’t do with their homes. The CC&Rs of an HOA also typically outline the financial obligations of homeowners. The document contains the types of fees that owners must pay, including regular dues.
Every association is required to create this document, also known as a declaration, as it is the document that gives HOAs their authority (apart from state law). In most states, a declaration is even necessary to form an association. For example, California Civil Code Section 4200 requires associations to record a declaration.
Common Examples of Restrictions
Homeowners associations come in different shapes and forms. Some have a limited number of restrictions, while others have long lists defined in their declaration. Of course, there are restrictions that are more common than others. Examples include:
- Property maintenance and use – these are restrictions or requirements concerning the individual property of homeowners. For example, an HOA might require owners to keep their yards clean or their exterior walls free from any paint chipping. There may also be restrictions regarding the use of the home, such as not allowing rentals or home businesses.
- Pets – pet rules are some of the most common policies in an HOA. These can range from a strict no-pets policy to rules that regulate the number, size, type, and breed of pets owners can keep.
- Parking – the declaration can also regulate parking in the community, especially in communities with private roads. Some examples include prohibiting parking in certain areas or not allowing overnight parking in guest parking lots.
- Decorations – the declaration can also include decoration rules whether they are for special occasions or for year-round decorations.
How HOA CC&Rs Differ from Bylaws and Operating Rules
Apart from the declaration, another governing document that homeowners will constantly encounter is the bylaws. The bylaws differ from the CC&Rs in that the former has more to do with the procedural requirements of the association’s operations. In other words, it describes how the association must be run. In contrast, the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions contain the obligations and rights of the owners as well as the HOA.
Some of the things you might find in the HOA’s bylaws include:
- How often to hold board meetings
- Notice requirements for board meetings
- How often to hold board elections
- Election requirements and notices
- Nomination procedures
- Term limits
- Duties and responsibilities of board members
- Voting rights of homeowners
While the CC&Rs can be thought of as rules, they are not the same as operating rules. Operating rules tend to be more detailed and expound on the covenants, conditions, and restrictions. Unlike the CC&Rs, which usually require a vote from the membership to amend, the operating rules only typically need board approval.
Why Homeowners Need to Know Their CC&Rs
It is important for homeowners to familiarize themselves with the association’s CC&Rs — and for many reasons. For one thing, knowing your duties and obligations can help you avoid penalties.
Violating the rules can come with consequences varying from monetary to legal repercussions. If nothing else, you should know what you can and can’t do so that you can avoid potential problems with your HOA.
Another reason to understand your declaration is to know your rights as a homeowner. It is not uncommon for a problematic HOA board to enforce a non-existent restriction on homeowners.
Knowing the contents of the declaration will help you identify which violations are valid and which ones are not. If your board slaps you with a violation letter for breaking a made-up rule, you can easily contest it during your disciplinary hearing.
When homeowners violate the restrictions in the declaration, penalties can include the following:
- Revoking of member privileges (such as a temporary ban on common area use)
For failure to pay regular dues or assessments, the HOA can take further legal measures in an attempt to collect the unpaid sum. After going through the usual process of sending written notice and charging a late fee, the HOA can place a lien on the delinquent owner’s property.
This lien will make it difficult for the owner to sell their home or refinance their loan. The HOA can also decide to initiate foreclosure proceedings.
While it may seem drastic or even silly, most associations do have the power to foreclose on a home. This is, of course, usually treated as a last resort, though it is not unheard of for HOAs to foreclose even due to small debts.
Where and How to Find CC&R
Before purchasing a home in an HOA community, the buyer is usually informed of the existence of the association.
The seller should then provide the buyer with a copy of the HOA’s governing documents, including the CC&Rs. This will give the buyer an opportunity to review the rules of the community and re-evaluate their interest in the property.
Some buyers intentionally seek out homes that are in HOAs because of the benefits they offer, though others aren’t too keen on the idea of living in such communities.
Apart from the initial copy provided by the seller, owners can access the association’s declaration using other methods. The easiest method is to check the community website. More often than not, HOAs that maintain websites allow owners to access the governing documents from their portal.
For communities with no websites, the simplest way is to ask the HOA board or HOA management company for a copy. In most states, it is required by law for the association to provide owners with a copy of the governing documents upon request. Keep in mind that you may need to pay a small fee to cover administrative costs associated with such a request.
Beyond that, owners can also head to the county recorder’s office to ask for a copy.
CC&R Meaning Explained
Violations can be a source of confusion and frustration for a lot of homeowners. Avoiding violations, though, is usually easy. All you need to do is read through your association’s CC&Rs to know what you can and can’t do. Additionally, this document can help potential buyers make a decision on the homes they are considering.
An HOA management company can help associations maintain and keep track of their governing documents. Call Elite Management Services today at (855) 238-8488 or contact us online to learn more about our services.
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