What Are HOA Governing Documents?

What Are HOA Governing Documents?

Today we’re going to talk about what an association’s governing documents are, and why they’re so important. The five documents that make up your association’s governing documents are:

  1. Plat Map
  2. Declarations
  3. Articles of Incorporations
  4. Bylaws
  5. Rules & Regulations


The most comprehensive document within the governing documents is the Declarations, also known as the CCNRs. The Rules & Regulations should always be a direct reflection of what it says in the Declarations. Put it this way: if the Declarations and the Rules & Regulations got into a fight, the Declarations would always win and the Rules & Regulations would have a black eye.

Articles of Incorporation

An association’s Articles of Incorporation would define the association most likely as a nonprofit corporation. An association’s Articles of Incorporation puts the community on the map. In other words, it’s their birth certificate—establishing that they exist as a community.


The association also has something called the Bylaws, which outlines:

  • Board roles

  • Meeting requirements

  • Voting information

  • Powers of the board

A lot of times, people refer to the Bylaws as all the documents combined, but don’t do that. The Bylaws are just one document. It’s not the entire Governing Documents. You can’t just throw out Bylaws and expect that everyone’s going to know what you’re talking about.

Rules & Regulations

An association should have Rules & Regulations: you can do this, you can’t do that, you need to bring your garbage cans in, you can paint your house this or that color, you can have a bird feeder or you can’t have a bird feeder.

Altering the HOA’s Governing Documents

If you don’t like what’s in your Governing Documents, you can actually change them, but the process is a little bit more complicated. It requires that you get in touch with an attorney who understands association law and works with the board of directors to determine what exactly they want changed in the Governing Documents. Typically, homeowners have to all get together to vote to say yes or no to these proposed changes. Before you decide that you want to change the governing documents, make sure that the juice is worth the squeeze. It’s a process: costing legal fees, getting homeowners together, and if the vote doesn’t get approved by a majority of homeowners, it won’t pass, and all of that would have been for nothing.

Familiarize Yourself with Your HOA’s Governing Documents

If you were looking to purchase in an HOA, make sure that your realtor is not the only one familiar with the Governing Documents. A look at the Declarations will help you understand what you’re responsible for versus the association. It will also help you better understand how the community is to function as a whole.

We hope this helps you understand the importance of an association’s Governing Documents. If you have further questions about living in a self-managed HOA, contact us today.