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Do residents have to agree to HOA rule changes?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2021 | HOA Law |

When residents won’t follow the rules in a Homeowners’ Association, it can certainly be frustrating for the HOA. After all, the resident knew what the rules were when they decided to join the community. If they now refuse to follow those rules, why did they act like it wouldn’t be an issue before? 

That being said, rules can change or be updated. What if a rule is proposed that a resident doesn’t agree with, and they did not agree to it when they bought the house? Do they have to agree to the rule change? And what if the other homeowners agree, but there’s just one holdout who does not? 

It all depends on what you mean by “Rules”

If by “Rules” you mean the provisions of the association’s “governing documents” (i.e., the Bylaws, Declaration, or Articles of Incorporation) these “rules” — or more particularly, covenants — cannot be changed at the whim of the Board of Directors.  Rather, only the “Members” (i.e., the owners) of the association can amend provisions of the governing documents.  The procedure for amending the governing documents will be included in each document. Typically, these documents require a supermajority vote to amend.

On the other hand, if by “rules” you mean regulations that address, for example, the procedure to request records, or how long one may speak at a Meeting, or the hours of operation for the pool, these “rules and regulations” can be enacted, modified or deleted by a simple majority vote of the Board.  Associations differ on whether notice is required either before enacting or changing these “Rules and Regulations” or after their passage.

But in either case, dissenting Members are nonetheless bound to follow the changed rules.  And there is a good reason for that.  As an example, suppose the association amends its Declaration to ban posting political signs on your private property.  It is true that this was not the rule when the dissenting Members joined the association.  However, when they joined, the rules included procedures for amending the rules and they agreed (implicitly if not expressly) to be bound by future amendments.  So as long as the association correctly adhered to the applicable procedures for amendment (and as long as the amendment does not violate a statutory or constitutional right), dissenting Members must comply with the rule as amended.

If HOA rule changes cause disputes with the residents, it’s important for all involved to know about the legal options they have.