Every society depends on an infrastructure of rules to guide individuals’ behavior. Limits help people to live together peacefully. This is especially true in a condominium association, where people often live under a common roof and share hallways and walls with their neighbors.
When an association is formed, an attorney and the Board of Directors develops a hierarchy of governing documents that provide for the legal structure and operation of the community. These documents must be in agreement with federal, state and local laws and ordinances. The governing documents have several important components: the declaration, rules, and regulations.
What Governing Documents Do
The declaration is a document that defines and limits the rights of ownership of each owner in the association. Bylaws are adopted by the association to handle issues such as requirements for membership in the association, the procedure for electing the board of directors and officers, voting rights, and the powers and duties of the board. Finally, rules are set to maintain, preserve, enhance and protect the property values and assets of the community.
A declaration is intended to be a stable document that changes rarely, and those changes require an amendment after a vote by a large majority. The community’s rules can change more frequently, based on changes in a community, new state or local laws, an evolving owner demographic, new amenities or even cultural changes. An experienced property manager can guide board members in how new legal requirements or an unexpected situation might necessitate a change in rules. However, the community’s elected board is responsible for enacting all rules and for directing the property manager on how the rules should be enforced.
The Board of Directors
An elected board of directors is a group who has volunteered to govern their community. Because they usually don’t have extensive training in condo association law, they rely on the expert advice of the association’s attorney and the professional property manager. There is a clear division of responsibilities: the Board of Directors make all the decisions. They vote on all contracts for services, approve the budget and set assessments, approve and enforce all Rules and Regulations, and generally run the business of the association.
A Property Manager’s Roles
The Property Manager implements all the Board’s decisions and works closely with the standing committees. He or she also supervises the association’s contractors and employees to ensure work is completed in an efficient and timely manner. The Management Company collects the assessments, prepares the financial reports for the Board of Directors, pays all the bills and assists the Board with anything they require in running the association.