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What Exactly Are the Governing Documents in a Homeowners Association?

January 8, 2020 / by HOA Manager

businesswoman_with_stack_of_paperThere's often a lot of talk about the governing documents of a homeowners association, but what are they, why are they important, and what do they say?

State Law

Almost every state has statutes governing condominiums and homeowners associations. In addition most associations are subject to the state corporations’ code.

Declaration, Master Deed, or Proprietary Lease and Their Covenants and Restrictions

Planned communities are created by declarations (also known as master deeds). Cooperatives are created with proprietary leases (also called occupancy agreements). These contain the restrictions that regulate residents’ behavior,  define owner’s rights and obligations, and establish the responsibilities of the homeowners association.

Articles of Incorporation

Most associations, and all cooperatives, incorporate and have articles of incorporation that define their purposes and powers. They may specify such things as the number of directors and their terms of office.


Bylaws address association operations such as procedures for meetings and elections and specifying the general duties of the board.

Resolutions—Rules and Regulations

HOA board members adopt rules and regulations, and sometimes members have to approve them. Rules and regulations are recorded as board resolutions. Resolutions must be consistent with the declaration or proprietary lease, the bylaws and state law.

Association governing documents are almost always trumped by state law. But, when association documents conflict among themselves, the declaration or proprietary lease carries the greatest weight, followed by the bylaws and then the rules and regulations.

As a recommendation, we always encourage the homeowners association board of directors to review the documents and consider amendments and/or restatements on a regular basis.

Learn more about governing documents here or reach out to a trusted HOA management company for guidance. They can be a huge help in getting the process up and running!

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Topics: HOA Management, HOA Documents and Contracts