What's the Difference Between Homeowners' Association (HOA) Bylaws and CC&Rs?

Learn the difference between an HOA's Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and the bylaws.

If you buy a home, like a single-family house, in a planned community, you'll most likely have to become part of a homeowners’ association (HOA). The HOA will have its own governing documents in the form of a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws.

Read on find out the difference between CC&Rs and bylaws.

What are Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs)?

The Declaration of CC&Rs is the legal document that lays out the guidelines for the planned community. The CC&Rs are usually recorded in the county records in the county where the property is located and are legally binding. When you purchase a lot or a home in a planned community, in most cases, you'll automatically become a member of the HOA.

Basically, the CC&Rs are the rules of your neighborhood. They govern what you can, can't, or must do with respect to your home. For example, the CC&Rs might require you to keep your garage door closed or prohibit certain types of landscaping. It's also typical for the CC&Rs to regulate things like:

  • basketball hoops
  • clotheslines
  • fences
  • TV antennas/satellite dishes, and
  • garbage cans.

    If you don’t abide by the CC&Rs, the HOA might impose penalties for any violations. (Learn more about Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions in HOAs.)

    What are Bylaws?

    An HOA, which is typically set up as a nonprofit corporation, is an organization established to manage a private, planned community. Like other corporations, the HOA is governed by a board of directors who are elected by the members and a set of rules called "bylaws."

    The bylaws govern how the HOA operates and contain the information needed to run the HOA as a business. The bylaws cover matters including:

    • how often the HOA holds meetings
    • how the meetings are conducted
    • the duties of the various offices of the board of directors
    • how many people are on the board, and
    • membership voting rights.

    If you're thinking about buying a home in an HOA community—or you already live in one—you should take the time to familiarize yourself with both the CC&Rs and the bylaws so that you're aware of any neighborhood restrictions and you fully understand how the community operates. If you have any questions about the HOA's governing documents and your rights, consider talking to a lawyer.

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