Governing Documents

Governing Documents

Every association in the Commonwealth of Virginia was originally created by a developer. The developer purchased the land and negotiated with the county or town to provide certain amenities in exchange for approval of his development of the community.

The initial governing document created by the developer and filed with the municipality is the Declaration.


Below are some of the items included in the Declaration:

  • Name of the association
  • Name of the city or county
  • Legal description of the community (including boundaries and common areas)
  • Description of all of the common elements to be provided in the community
  • Statement of the declarant's reserved rights
  • Establishment of the board of directors and the architectural control committee
  • Statement of the association's CCR's (covenants, conditions and restrictions)
  • Other items which the developer wishes to include

The next step is for the developer to incorporate the association with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. This is done by filing an Articles of Incorporation.

The developer also drafts the Bylaws, which include the legal rules to be followed for annual meetings, board meetings, elections, membership on the board of directors (terms and qualifications, if any), filling vacancies on the board of directors, and other items.

If not provided by the developer, each association should create a document titled Design Guidelines (or similar name). The purpose of this document is to set forth the association’s rules for exterior modifications to an owner’s property. It also includes the requirement that the owner complete an application for most exterior modifications. It may also include a paint chart for owners to follow.

Lastly, if not created by the developer, each association should create a set of policies. There are certain standard policies which should be included. The purpose of each policy is to clarify and further delineate rules established in the Declaration and the Bylaws. Standard policies should include: collection policy; enforcement policy; design guidelines; complaint policy; and procedures relative to revising and copying of books and records. Optional policies (if applicable) could include: pet policy; rules relative to the leasing of property; parking policy; and pool policy.