Resolutions, Rules & Regulations

Rules, Regulations & Resolutions

This is a broad category, and refers to those documents that are typically adopted by the board of directors without a vote of the owners (note: some associations may have owner approval requirements). Examples include: architectural guidelines, collections resolutions, enforcement procedures, and house rules. These documents are not recorded, which is why it is critical that owners receive and are on notice of these documents. Keep resolutions simple, be sure to cite to the authority for adopting the rule or regulation, and make sure owners know the reasons for adoption.

  1. Resolutions

Resolutions memorialize policies and procedures of the board of directors.  They are also used to enact rules and regulations.  Generally, resolutions, rules and regulations are adopted by the board without a vote of the owners. 

There are several types of resolutions:

Policy Resolutions - these affect the rights and obligations of owners.  Examples include enforcement resolutions and architectural guidelines.

Administrative Resolutions - these govern the operations of the association. Examples include collections resolutions and resolutions governing board and owner meetings.

Special Resolutions - this type of resolution is used for a specific circumstance. For example, if the board decides to take enforcement action against a specific owner, this may be recorded in a formal resolution.

2. Rules

Rules are specific guidelines governing the behavior and actions of the owners within the community.  Rules are often enacted via a policy resolution.

Typical rules in a community association include rules governing: pets, parking, solicitation, garbage and trash, and renting of homes or units. Architectural guidelines are a type of rule, but specifically govern the appearance of an owner’s lot or unit. 

When creating rules, make sure:

The rule does not violate federal or state law;

The rule is consistent with the other governing documents;

The rule relates to the affairs and operations of the community;

The rule is reasonable and capable of uniform enforcement; and

The rule is necessary. 

3. Rule Development

Follow the same steps each time a rule is considered and created.  Here are some guidelines:

1. Identify the need for the rule, and make sure that the issue isn’t already addressed in other governing documents.

2. Determine the authority to create the rule. Many governing documents provide specific authority to adopt certain rules.  State law also provides the authority to create certain rules.

3. Specify the scope of the rule, i.e. who and what it applies to. Don’t be vague and clearly list procedures, due process and enforcement. Rules should be brief and easy to understand. 

4. Solicit owner feedback about the proposed rule. Owners will often provide valuable feedback on proposed rules. Consider holding an owners meeting to openly discuss the rule.

5. Once the rule is adopted by the board, ensure that all owners receive notice of the rule.  Begin uniform enforcement immediately. 

8 Considerations for Community Rules & Regulations

Rules and regulations are an important part of the association’s governing documents. When properly adopted, rules carry the same weight as provisions in the CC&Rs or Bylaws. Here are some important things to know when adopting rules and regulations:

1) Rules and regulations must be consistent with the association’s other governing documents. You may not adopt a rule which conflicts with the CC&Rs, Bylaws or state law. In addition, an association may not adopt a rule for which it has no authority to do so. For example, if the CC&Rs do not contain any provisions related to the renting of units or lots, the board may not adopt a rule restricting the number of rentals in the community.

2) Rules and regulations are not recorded with the county recorders office. Because they are not recorded, it’s important that the association ensure that new owners in the community receive copies of all previously adopted rules, regulations and resolutions. If an owner never received a copy of a rule or regulation, it will be impossible to enforce.

3) When drafting rules, always cite to the association’s authority for adopting the rule, and include a statement of why the board is adopting the rule. Avoid legalese and make the rule clear, concise and readable.

4) Consider circulating the proposed rules before the board votes to adopt. Sometimes the board may receive constructive feedback from the owners which may prompt modifications.

5) Be consistent with the enforcement of rules and regulations. Follow the same procedures with all owners. This means applying the same fines for similar violations, allowing owners the opportunity for a hearing prior to levying fines, and equal application of each rule and regulation.

6) In general, boards may rescind rules, regulations and resolutions adopted by previous boards. However, if owners have relied upon a particular rule, the board may not retroactively apply a new, inconsistent rule against those owners. For example, suppose a board adopts a rule allowing white fences in the community and some owners construct white fences in compliance with the rule. If a new board decides only wood colored fences are allowed, the board may not require those owners who constructed white fences to comply with the new rule.

7) Make sure that owners receive due process when enforcing rules and regulations. Washington and Oregon both require that owners receive the opportunity for a hearing in front of the board of directors prior to levying a fine. Notice and the opportunity for a hearing should be built into all rules and regulations which include a financial penalty.

8) Don’t adopt needless rules or regulations. Always ask “why are we adopting this?” Rules and regulations should be adopted to address specific issues that arise in the community or to resolve ambiguities in the CC&Rs or Bylaws.