Governing Documents


The laws of the land take precedence over all other HOA documents. State laws come before Local laws, while Federal laws outweigh everything else. Whether you’re drafting your governing documents or deciding which one to follow, it’s important to always check the law first. This way, you’re not acting against the laws of the land.

So if your HOA CC&R documents have restrictions on things like sex and religion when it comes to potential homeowners, that would be in conflict with the Fair Housing Act. In this case, the related provisions in your CC&Rs violate federal law, which makes them unenforceable.


Next up on the HOA documents hierarchy is the map or plat that your association recorded with the county office. It’s simply the recorded plan of your entire subdivision or community. This document establishes maintenance responsibility and property location. It also shows the exact dimensions of each unit, easements, and setback requirements. Other items of note include:


3. CC&RS

The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) take the third spot on the HOA documents hierarchy. This document details the rights of homeowners and the responsibilities of the HOA board members.

Typically, the CC&Rs also contain stipulations associated with assessment obligations, maintenance responsibilities, and enforcement authority. This is also where you’ll find specific procedures on how to handle various issues such as disputes and violations.

Others know the CC&Rs as the Rules of the Community. This document guides homeowners on what they can and can’t do, particularly when it comes to property use and other aspects of HOA living. Before purchasing your home in an HOA community, you’ll be informed of the CC&Rs and asked to agree to them. You may even need to sign something as proof of agreement.

When a homeowner violates a covenant, certain consequences take place. Most Associations send out a notice of warning on the first offense. Fines and the suspension of privileges are typical courses of action for future violations. Failure to settle these fines can eventually lead to legal action.



The Articles of Incorporation includes essential information such as the legal name of the HOA, address, and the Association’s corporate status. Some articles also contain a few basic functions of the HOA. This document, while necessary, doesn’t consist of much. It’s filed with the state upon the formation of the Association.

Coming in fourth on the HOA documents hierarchy means the Articles of Incorporation supersede the HOA Bylaws and the operating rules. However, they don’t take seniority over the state laws or the CC&Rs. So, if something in your Articles of Incorporation comes into conflict with a provision in your CC&Rs, the latter takes precedence.



The HOA Bylaws consist of important information related to how the Association is run. Like a business, a Board of Directors oversees the workings of an HOA. The Bylaws simply state the particulars of how to operate the HOA, such as how often to conduct meetings, the process of holding meetings, and voting rights. This document also includes how many Board members there should be as well as the functions of each of those Board members.

As fifth on the list, the only document the HOA Bylaws prevail over is the operating Rules and Regulations. So, if your Bylaws clash with, say, your Articles of Incorporation, you must follow the latter document. If you wish to see your HOA Bylaws, or any other governing document, you can request a copy from your HOA board or with the County Recorder’s office.


Whereas the CC&Rs and Bylaws determine the procedures and responsibilities of the HOA board, the Rules and Regulations focus on the day-to-day aspect of operations. This can include rules regarding weeds, trash containers, pets, and even architectural and landscaping specifications.

These rules can change from time to time, though the board must ensure that new rules or amendments don’t come into conflict with other governing documents. Moreover, it’s a good idea to have the Association’s attorney look over these policy changes to make sure the board is acting within its scope.

On the other hand, if you’re a homeowner who disagrees with one or some of the operating rules, you’re not entirely powerless. Make sure to let the Board know why you (and/or others) oppose the rule. You can also check your local laws or reference other governing documents to see what else you can do. After all, every state and association is different, so what may work for one HOA might not work for another.

Unity is Community