When the developer of your association first envisioned the community, he/she visited with an attorney to draft the original governing documents. Below are the documents, in the order of their priority over each other:
Declaration (or Master Deed) – This document is recorded in the county where the community is located and creates the covenants that bind the deed/title to the property. It governs the property rights, covenants and restrictions. It also sets forth the obligation of each owner to share in the funding of the association’s operations and establishes the rules on the use of the owner’s property.
Articles of Incorporation – This is the official document that creates the corporation with the State. It generally outlines the structure of the corporation and defines the powers of the board of directors. This document is filed with the Secretary of State and then recorded with the Declaration.
Bylaws – This document sets forth the administrative operation of the corporation. The Bylaws set forth the responsibilities of the members of the board of directors, the frequency of their meetings, the scheduling of the annual meeting of the members (owners), and other administrative rules and procedures to be followed by the association.
Rules and Regulations – Unlike the above documents that are generally prepared by an attorney and require a large percentage of the ownership to approve any amendments, the rules and regulations are adopted by the board of directors. They may be drafted to further explain rules pertaining to life in you community, such as parking rules, amenity use, collection of assessments, etc. These documents may also be referred to as “policies”. They may be updated over time, as needed, to conform with changes in the community and changes to the State laws. The rules and regulations may further explain the covenants included in the Declaration, but they can never be more restrictive than allowed by the Declaration. If your Declaration provides for the association to assess sanctions (fines) against homeowners for non-compliance with the association’s rules, the policy documents will further describe the procedures to be followed by the owners, the board of directors and management.