4 Tips for Changing HOA Bylaws

shutterstock_301149080The HOA’s bylaws are important for keeping the neighborhood pleasant. All homeowners agree to follow these bylaws when they purchase a home in the neighborhood. However, sometimes, these bylaws need to be changed. It’s always a good idea to routinely go through your governing documents and change what doesn’t work anymore.

Eliminate Bylaws That Break the Law

Homeowners must follow the bylaws, but the bylaws do not supersede federal and local laws. Laws change, and old bylaws may not be legal. For example, when the bylaws were first written, perhaps someone created a rule that stated “no dogs are allowed within the neighborhood regardless of breed and size,” but what about service dogs, which are legally allowed for people who need them by federal law? If your bylaws prohibit service dogs, they are in violation of the law and need to be updated.

Update Bylaws That No Longer Make Sense

It’s also a good idea to update bylaws that no longer make any sense. Times change and so does what is considered normal. In the past, you didn’t see many people driving around in SUVs, so the HOA may have considered them unsightly and banned them from the neighborhood. However, SUVs have become common, especially with families, so it may be a bit silly for your HOA to prohibit them, especially if a lot of families live in the neighborhood. In these situations, it’s extremely important for the HOA to listen to residents. If nearly every homeowner is complaining that a rule doesn’t make sense anymore, you may want to update it.

Add to Bylaws That Are Vague

Another problem you may come across when reviewing the governing documents are vague rules. Maybe the rule made sense at the time, or maybe someone just didn’t do a good enough job, but you’ll probably find a lot of rules that can be interpreted many different ways. A bylaw that states “no big dogs are allowed,” is an extremely subjective rule. What constitutes a big dog? The more information a rule has, the easier it is to follow and enforce.

Always Keep Homeowners Updated

Whatever you end up doing with your bylaws, make sure to keep homeowners updated. If you find a rule that needs to be changed, tell residents. Explain the rule, the problems with the rule, and the proposed update. Post this where residents are most likely to spot it, such as on the website or the HOA’s social media accounts, and give them plenty of time to review the proposed rule before the vote.

The bylaws shouldn’t be changed at the drop of a hat, but they do need to be updated when they just don’t fit the community anymore or they are too hard to enforce because they are too vague.

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