Q&A: Ranking Rules

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Q. What is the difference between HOA rules and CCRs?

                     —Not Looking for Creedence

A. “In the world of community associations, CCR stands for covenants, conditions, and restrictions,” says senior attorney Scott K. Penick of the North Brunswick office of McGovern Legal Services. “These are rules that are publicly recorded against all homeowner lots and association-owned lots within an association. The public recording in New Jersey will be with either the County Clerk or the County Register of Deeds and Mortgages. CCRs typically address property rights (what can be done ‘Down on the Corner’ or ‘Out My Back Door’); maintenance, repair, and replacement responsibilities (‘Who’ll Stop the Rain’ from flooding the detention basin); and restrictions on activities both on homeowner lots and the common property (no ‘Travelin’ Bands’ allowed to play after dark). These rules are usually established by the association’s developer or sponsor and are not easily changed. A vote of some percentage of the homeowners within an association is typically required to amend the CCRs.

“In addition to CCRs, most homeowners associations (HOAs) have rules and regulations. These may have been established by the HOA’s developer, but most often, these additional rules are put into place by an association’s board of directors. In New Jersey, HOAs are usually non-profit corporations with bylaws. These bylaws typically outline the powers of the board of directors. In nearly all cases, the bylaws give some measure of rule-making authority to an association’s board of directors. Unlike CCR amendments, which require a homeowner vote, HOA rules outside of the CCRs can usually be changed by a vote of the board, without any homeowner input. However, boards cannot establish rules that conflict with the CCRs or the bylaws. If there is a conflict, priority is given to the CCRs, then the bylaws and then HOA rules. An HOA rule that conflicts with CCRs or bylaws will be unenforceable.”

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