Amending Your Rules and Bylaws Change is Good

What would it be like if today's society was governed by laws set forth centuries ago and never updated? While some fundamental rules about not stealing things or hurting people might not change much, others would be in dire need of a facelift—giving women the right to vote and outlawing slavery come to mind, among many others. In deference to the need for a set of rules that change with the times, even the U.S. Constitution has been amended. The fact is that most rules need to be revisited and reexamined periodically to make sure they serve the needs and expectations of the population they're intended to govern.

This is no different in a co-op or condo association. The certificate of incorporation, the proprietary lease, bylaws, and, for condos, the declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R) are the main underlying documents that govern HOAs. They're like a contract among shareholders and unit owners, certifying that the residents will behave in a certain manner and adhere to certain regulatory expectations. Just as cities and states periodically revisit laws and regulations and alter them as needed, associations should re-examine their bylaws and rules to make sure they're fair, enforceable, and relevant to today's building community.

An Ongoing Process

"I think that one function of a good governing board is to constantly examine and reassess the scope and content of the community's governing documents," says Thomas V. Giaimo, Esq., an attorney based in Rumson. "It's a continuing and implied duty upon the governing board. The same goes for the community's rules and regulations. Those rules should be under constant evaluation for clarity, fairness and improvement."

Giaimo also says that periodic reexamination of rules and regulations by the board shouldn't be limited to decades-old HOAs. It's just as important for newer associations who've been given their set of governing documents by the community's sponsor or developer.

"These documents are typically boilerplate and do not necessarily reflect the community's true nature, character and temperament," Giaimo says. "New communities and their governing boards typically want to revise the developer's set of governing documents in order to more accurately reflect the community's needs and character. Certain communities will decide that they want to be more vigilant, and insist on strict compliance with the provisions contained in their governing documents."


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  • What if a bylaw hasn't been changed in over 30 years and it states that it only gives each unit 2 parking spots but when a family of 2 cars grows into a family of 3 or more cars then what can you do?
  • This is an ongoing problem at all condo's across the world. Best to buy your own home, as there is not a solution to this when all the guests spots are taken too.
  • A real estate lawyer advised our board that it could raise late regime fee payments without amending the bylaws and master deed. For 30 years, the board had wrestled with the assumption that 51 percent of owners must agree.
  • My question - when a board wants to change the covenants, is there a specified time in which votes must be cast and counted?
  • This HOA tricked people into signing undted signature cards and recorded amendments falsely. There were never any fees in our Original Declaration of Covenants and they misrepresented the facts and immediately began charging fees.
  • What if you were allowed 2 pets and now the association wants to change the rules to allow only 1 pet. Is the 2nd pet necessarily "grandfathered" in or is the owner expected to dispose of a pet to continue to live in the condo? (the 2nd pet is an indoor cat)
  • Would like to add Mitsubishi air conditioning as bedroom has no unit. Told cannot add unit to patio as it is "common ground". Is it possible to have rules changed.
  • Is there a Florida requirement that a super majority vote is required to change an HOA Bylaws? If so, where can I find the regulation or statute?
  • Our by-laws are 25+ years old. Our board only has 2 members -supposed to be 5. The Pres. Makes her own rules. Are votes from the owners required in order for her to do this? Thank you
  • My HOA has Covenants and Bylaws. A few members wish to eliminate the Bylaws and incorporate them into the Covenants. It is much easier to amend the Bylaws than the Covenants and for that reason I object.
  • My boyfriend passed away. He left the home to me in a will. Will the co-op board have to approve me or will I automatically inherit the home. I live in New Jersey
  • By NJ law, statute, etc., must By Law amendments be filed with the county clerk or any other jurisdiction having authority before they become effective?
  • - Can the board raise the HOA fees without receiving unit members approval? - We're in a new community. The budget was never shared and discussed for a fiscal year. And now the board members and management company is saying that we are required to increase the HOA fess because we are in debt now. Two meetings were held to discuss the issue and management passed the motion to raise the HOA fess. Majority of residents believe that money is not being utilized properly and someone screwed up and now home owners have to face the consequences. Balance sheets and financial documents were not shared until they were asked by us. Any many more things have gone wrong. Any help out there to explain us the rules and regulations and help us dig out of this situation?
  • Our bylaws prohibit any commercial vehicles, automobiles, and boats. Then the bylaws go on to provide the filling ( no boat or watercraft shall be stored overnight in the property, unless totally enclosed in a garage and not be visible from the outside.) section 10.03. It also indicates ( the association may, but should not be obligated to,desgnate certain portions of the common properties, which may be relocated from time to time, for the parking of trucks, commercial vehicles, buses, recreational vehicles, mobile homes, trailers, boats,and campers). As far as I can see there has never been any storage provided for this use. They made me get rid of a larger boat because it was visible from the street and they advise me that I can have a boat on my property as long as it wasn't an eye sore and you couldn't see it from the street. I recently purchased a smaller boat that you can't see from the street. It has been parked in my yard towards the end of my fence for past 2 months before I recieved a letter stating that I had an illegal stored boat in my yard. My question is what can I do in order to keep my boat without paying any extra fees at a storage unit that won't guarantee the security of my boat. Living in florid we enjoy the beach and now the boat. HELP me please what are my options.
  • Is there a special meeting held for the purpose of amending the bylaws? This includes the voting process. Should the tally be taken within a couple of days after the meeting, or is it be possible to have an ongoing count for eleven months??? Our board seems to feel they have the right to continue counting (eleven months). At which point, supposedly, they achieved their goal.