But sometimes, various circumstances might make you feel that at least some restrictions should change.
Could they, though?
That’s what we’re going to answer in this post. We’ll discuss whether HOA boards could change their associations’ declaration and the process for amending CC&Rs.
So, let’s get right to it.
Could HOA Change Its CC&Rs?
Short answer, yes, it could.
However, the process is not as simple as just replacing an old restriction with something else.
A CC&R amendment, typically, comes as a result of certain circumstances:.
The state law might have changed, and such change must be reflected in the CC&Rs. Otherwise, HOA would face a discrepancy between what it mandates, and what is provisioned by the law, after all.
Some CC&Rs might have gone out of date due to various amendments to the law or changes to the way we live.
An HOA might also need to amend CC&Rs to address circumstances that didn’t exist when the association was formed.
Finally, the association may decide to modify the rights and responsibilities of the HOA and its residents, and need to reflect that in its governing documents.
In short, the reasoning for proposing a change must be reasonable and rational. Naturally, an HOA cannot change certain regulations only because it would suit certain board members.
However, the association may be required to make the change because of the above mentioned circumstances.
So let’s assume that that’s what happened in your association - a new state regulation or another circumstance - is forcing you to consider amending the CC&Rs.
How to Amend HOA CC&Rs
First, we recommend you and the rest of the board evaluate the proposed change against several criteria:
Is the change necessary?
This criterion ties in with what we’ve discussed above. What is the reasoning for the change? Where did the idea come from, and what’s guiding the amendment?
Your answer might be straightforward. But you might also discover that there isn’t a solid ground for making the change, and evaluting the reasoning might shed a new light on the project.
How much will it cost to change and implement it?
Changing a CC&R is an expensive process. First, your HOA will have to seek professional legal advice from an attorney. You will also have to notify residents of the proposed change, typically by mailing information about it, and send out ballots to vote.
will also need to send out a mailing informing homeowners of the proposed change, hold a town hall type of meeting to discuss the proposed change, and have to send out the ballots to vote.
All this might accrue significant cost to the association, and it’s worth evaluating whether the HOA is in a position to cover it.
How long will it take to change and implement the new regulation?
We admit; it’s almost impossible to predict how long the process of changing a CC&R could take. But there are ways to estimate it.
For example, if the community is vibrant, active, and involved in making the area a fantastic place to live, the process might go smoothly. Everyone will, most likely, respond to mailings and send their ballots quickly.
But if you live in a more stagnant community, you might struggle even to reach the quorum to pass the change.
So, it’s worth evaluating realistically what engagement you could expect from the community and making plans based on that.
Again, let’s assume that you’ve evaluated all the criteria and are ready to move ahead with the change.
Here’s the exact process for amending an HOA CC&R.
The Process for Amending CC&Rs
Step 1. Proposal
The change is brought forward to the board of directors to evaluate and decide whether to proceed with the process.
Step 2. A meeting to discuss the proposed change
The HOA board schedules a meeting to notify and discuss the proposed change with the homeowners.
Some HOAs will also send out information about the proposed change ahead of the meeting to give everyone a chance to familiarize themselves with the proposed amendment.
Step 3. Secret ballot
Following the meeting, the HOA sends out a secret ballot to homeowners to vote on the change.
The ballot must go to every homeowner in the neighborhood, but (generally) not every resident must respond. The decision of whether or not to take part in the ballot is entirely up to each resident.
Step 4. Ballot results
The change is either approved or not approved. The result is based on quorum, not the number of ballots received.
Step 5. CC&R amendment
Providing that the proposed change was approved in the ballot, current CC&Rs get amended. All homeowners also receive a copy of new CC&Rs with the amendment added.
After that, the amendment is recorded in the County’s Recorder’s office, and the HOAs bylaws get amended to coincide with the CC&Rs, if necessary.
That’s it. Although we have to admit, the process looks only simple on paper. In reality, many HOAs struggle with reaching the quorum to approve the change and often resort to going door to door to remind residents of the need to make their opinions known about the proposed change.
Could an HOA Manager Help with the Process?
Absolutely! If you’re an HOA manager, you can get actively involved and help with many aspects of the process:
You can help guide HOA board members through the process. Often, people on the board of directors have other jobs and responsibilities and need someone to manage and oversee the process.
You could also act as the point of contact for homeowners looking to learn more about the proposed change. You can ask their questions and provide additional information to help them decide how they’d want to vote on the ballot.
Another way you could help is by facilitating meetings and collecting ballots.
Finally, you could work with the attorney to write the new amendment into the declaration of CC&Rs.