Did you know that in most associations the HOA Rules & Regulations aren’t considered part of the governing documents? This means that an HOA board can decide to adopt new rules as it goes and the rules don’t have to go through an amendment process like changes to governing documents do. However, if a Board is planning on revising the HOA Rules & Regulations there are some questions they should consider before doing so.
1. Does the rule really need revising?
Sometimes what an HOA board considers a rule is already addressed in the CC&Rs. Make sure the rule you're adding, deleting or revising isn’t already covered. You don’t want to start getting too rule-heavy.
2. What is the purpose of the rule?
HOA rules are used to help homeowners and keep them safe, as well as to expand on the CC&Rs. For example, regulations relating to the common areas like the opening and closing time of the pool or whether resident’s guests can use the fitness center, aren’t usually addressed in the CC&Rs, so it would be appropriate to have a rule that speaks to those issues.
3. What does the state say?
In California, it's required that any general HOA rules that apply to the Association have to be published to HOA members, and then members have to be given 30 days to review the amendments and provide any input they have. After the 30 days the Board will meet and consider any questions, concerns or comments from members and decide at that time whether or not to adopt the rule. Other states don’t require member review, so Board members would be left to consult the governing documents and each other.
4. Should you request input anyway?
Even if a member review process isn’t required by law, it’s a good best practice to give members notice and a period of time to review the HOA rule anyway. It’s a way to gain their trust and relieve potential anxieties. It also shows a good-faith gesture that will help members have confidence in the decisions the Board is making on their behalf.
5. Do you have a rule change process?
If you're proposing an HOA rule change, prepare a draft of the rule to give members for the 30 day review period along with a description of the change being made. Then schedule an open forum to hear member’s comments. Be sure to document any comments made during the forum so you can refer back to them. The Board has the responsibility to make sure the proper HOA Rules & Regulations are in place. Remember that changes made to the CC&Rs requires a different process. As long as the Board clearly communicates any potential rule changes, provides the opportunity for feedback, and keeps the best interests of the homeowners in mind, the process should go smoothly.