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Definitions of What's
Included in a Declaration

Below is a list of definitions of what should be included in an HOA Declaration.

Legal Beagle

A homeowners association (HOA) is a group made up of homeowners in a specific residential neighborhood. In an effort to maintain the uniform look of the community and keep the area inviting and attractive, the HOA draws up a list of rules, procedures and policies that are meant to keep the peace in the community. This list is called an HOA Declaration.

The HOA Declaration includes the legal and physical description of the community as a whole, because in many areas the HOA is required to submit a Declaration to the city or county government. The description also includes the number of individual units, whether houses or condominiums.

Nolo Legal Encyclopedia

Although every development is different, the governing documents typically include:

  • Articles of Incorporation

  • Bylaws

  • Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), and

  • Rules and regulations.

What's in the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs)

The CC&Rs are the "big Kahuna" of the governing documents. They contain the most comprehensive and probably the most important information about the development and its operation. If there is anything in another governing document that conflicts with a provision of the CC&Rs, the CC&Rs win (and the conflicting provisions are considered invalid).

The Declaration of CC&Rs is typically a lengthy document, setting up the general structure of the development and describing what land is subject to the governing documents, as well as what parts of the development are common areas owned by the association.

The CC&Rs also contain restrictions on the use of each owner's property as well as of the common areas. They specify the association's authority and obligations and define the rights and responsibilities of its members (owners). Every owner must abide by all the rules, restrictions, terms, and conditions found in the CC&Rs.

By reviewing the CC&Rs, an owner or potential purchaser can learn about the general restrictions on the use of the property in the development, and about the rights and responsibilities of owners. For example, a review of the CC&Rs could reveal that owners may not have visible satellite dishes or antennas, or that all owners must mow their lawns once a week.

Most CC&Rs also contain procedures for amendments. If the development is older, the CC&Rs might already have a number of amendments revising the original terms.

Most state laws require recording the CC&Rs in the real property records in the county where the development is located. A copy must ordinarily be provided to a buyer prior to making a purchase. If you are an owner or potential buyer and don't already have a copy of the CC&Rs, get one, and familiarize yourself with its terms.

Rules and Regulations

Although general rules and regulations may be contained within the CC&Rs, the HOA typically also adopts separate (usually more lengthy and specific) "rules and regulations." The HOA likely has wide discretion to adopt rules and regulations (provided they do not violate any state or federal law and do not conflict with the terms of the CC&Rs).

Rules and regulations can cover anything from prohibiting broken cars and trash in yards to regulating the height of fences to limiting the number of swimmers in the pool. Because the purpose of the HOA is to do what's best for the common good and value of the development, regardless of whether all individual owners agree, the rules and regulations are often the most controversial documents in a development, and the cause of many disputes.

Because the rules and regulations can affect how the property in the development is used, a potential buyer should study them and determine whether they can live with them before making a purchase. For example, you might have second thoughts about purchasing in the development if you find out that you'd have to get rid of your golden retriever because owners are not allowed to have dogs over ten pounds. Current owners should also be familiar with the rules and regulations and keep up with any changes.

HOA Management › hoa-covenants

What Are HOA Covenants Anyway? Why Is It Important?

Property use and appearance covenants, for instance, primarily focuses on maintaining curb appeal. When curb appeal drops, so do property values. HOA covenants also protect homeowners' rights to quiet enjoyment of their property. Beyond that, covenants allow associations to navigate and resolve disputes in a standard format.

Find HOA Law    An association’s “Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions” (“declaration” or “CC&Rs”) is a recorded document setting forth the majority of the powers, rights and responsibilities of the association and its members. CC&Rs generally contain provisions addressing:

  • Assessment obligations of members;

  • Association and member maintenance responsibilities;

  • Architectural control powers;

  • Association enforcement authority;

  • Dispute resolution;

  • Insurance requirements; and

  • Property use restrictions.

The restrictions contained in the CC&Rs are considered “an inherent part of any common interest development and are crucial to the stabled, planned environment of any shared ownership arrangement.” (Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village (1994) 8 Cal. 4th 361, 372.)

Real Management

Basic HOA Documents and Hierarchy of Authority

All HOAs have the following basic set of governing documents that dictate how a community may be governed:  

Articles of Incorporation: Has basic information about the community association.

Federal and state law: Unless the statute specifies that the association's documents take precedence.

Declaration of CC&Rs: Contains the rights and responsibilities of each member. It also sets out the duties of the HOA to its members.

Rules and Regulations: Details of how the CC&Rs are interpreted and implemented.

Bylaws: Establish the technical rules and procedures for voting, directors' elections, and term limits.

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