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The distinction between HOA bylaws versus CC&Rs

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | HOA Law |

Elected board members of the Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) run their community with the needs and interests of all residents in mind. Being residents themselves, they have a unique understanding of the community’s needs. However, some may not fully understand their responsibilities and obligations as defined in the operational rules (bylaws) versus those in the rules for homeowners (CC&Rs).

It’s important to understand these distinctions as they heavily influence the community’s function and management.

Bylaws act as the operational guidebook

Bylaws serve as a manual for the HOA. They outline the association’s internal operations, such as:

  • How the elections of the board of directors should go
  • How members should hold meetings
  • What are the duties of each board member

Bylaws also detail the number of board members, the process for electing them and other voting procedures. The HOA typically does not record these rules with the county but maintains them internally and makes them accessible to all members. Despite not being recorded, they hold legal weight. If members violate these bylaws, they may face removal from the board or the association.

CC&Rs govern homeowner obligations

Covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) are the rules that directly impact homeowners. These rules determine what homeowners in the HOA can and cannot do with their properties. This includes regulations about property use, architectural guidelines and other restrictions. They also set the association’s and its members’ responsibilities, such as maintenance duties and fee structures.

Unlike bylaws, the HOA has the legal authority to enforce these rules. For instance, if a homeowner does not pay their HOA fees as required by the CC&Rs, the HOA can place a lien on the property. Even in a minor violation, such as a homeowner not following rules about house aesthetics, the HOA can take legal action to enforce compliance.

Amending rules according to Texas law

Sometimes, bylaws or CC&Rs may no longer serve the community’s needs or objectives. Members who wish to change any of these rules should understand the requirements for this process. For instance, under Texas law, changing bylaws often requires a majority vote from the membership.

In these scenarios, members need to follow proper procedures, which can be complex to work around. Given this, it can be beneficial to consult with an attorney. An attorney can help members comply with state laws and other governing documents, helping to avoid potential legal issues down the road.