One thing all Community Association’s agree on is that governing documents are the structural backbone of your community’s identity and how it operates.
Much like the layout of a store, these governing documents are established as soon as the developer completes construction. Though the store is empty, a layout is predicted to serve and protect consumers. The same is true for a new community. As hard work comes to fruition, homes fill up with residents and a true community emerges. There will, however, come a point that your documents need to be amended to reflect the needs of residents—the same way that a store may need to be reorganized.
Many HOA boards ask when it is appropriate to update our governing documents? The truth is that there is no black and white answer, but you must evolve and keep pace with your community. It is recommended to review your documents every 4-5 years.
How to Enact Change
- Check the Mechanisms for Changing Your Documents: Having a hard time reaching quorum? Try amending a clause that requires a super-majority, or lower required attendance levels.
Experts recommend appointing a sub-committee of interested members. Hint: those with interest in and experience reading legal documents are often well-suited for this committee. Along with your property management company, the committee members will help identify areas in your governing documents that might be ripe for change and can take note of the mechanisms required for updates.
- Assess your Community’s Needs: How are common areas and amenities being used? Are residents making suggestions? Are you in compliance with state and local guidelines? With your answers to these questions, create a “Things We Would Change if We Could” list.
Move down the list, identifying what would be required to make each change. Make sure that the Community Association’s has the authority to make these changes and assess the time and resources required for each. Understanding the bigger picture helps to identify the most important changes to be made.
- Communicate with Members: every decision you make has a direct impact on members of the association. Do not underestimate the value of transparency—share benefits, not features. Your property management company can help you create a communications strategy to invite participation from members.
- Be Patient – Change Takes Time: Communities generally don’t change because they have to, they change to meet the needs of current and prospective residents. Community updates are often part of a gradual roll-out as time and budget allow. Therefore, changes to governing documents will also take time.
The key? Don’t get locked into rules that no longer serve your community.
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