An Association’s Governing Documents consists of several different components, including the Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, CC&Rs, Rules & Regulations, and Architectural Guidelines. Your Association may also have additional supplemental rules such as a Satellite Dish Policy, or other Association -related policies. Below is a brief description of the basic Governing Documents for each Association:

Articles of Incorporation: The Articles of Incorporation state the legal name of the Homeowners Association, a statement that the Association is a non-profit corporation, and the purpose of the Association.

Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC&Rs): The CC&Rs are required for all condominiums and planned unit developments. The CC&Rs are prepared by the Developer’s attorney, reviewed by the California Department of Real Estate, and are recorded with the County. The CC&Rs describe the rights, obligations, and restrictions of the Homeowners Association and of each owner.

By-laws: The By-laws describe the mechanics of the Association’s decision-making body, typically known as the Board of Directors. Bylaws establish policies and procedures for the governing of an Association. They set qualifications for the election of directors, their number and term of office, their powers and duties, the appointment of officers, when and how meetings are held, quorum and voting requirements, appointment of committees, etc.

Rules and Regulations: This is a document that supplements the CC&Rs, primarily with regard to the “Use Restrictions” section of the CC&Rs. Rules are adopted to enhance and maintain the quality of the Association. California’s constitution is set up so only voters may amend the constitution.  Much like California’s constitution, your Association’s CC&Rs may only be amended by the members.  Boards may adopt reasonable rules consistent with the CC&Rs, as long as they are not more restrictive than the CC&Rs.  For example, if your CC&Rs allow owners to have a dog, Boards can pass rules requiring that dogs be on a leash and not be a nuisance, such as barking excessively. Accordingly, an Association’s rules typically cover pets, parking, signs, noise, use of recreational facilities, etc.

Architectural Guidelines: This is a document that supplements the CC&Rs, primarily with regard to architectural controls restricting the structural and aesthetic changes of the exterior of an individual’s property.

California Civil Code and the Davis-Stirling Act: The California Civil Code includes numerous statutory laws that govern the formation and operation of Homeowners Associations. The Davis-Stirling Act is the most important of all California Civil Codes, as it provides detailed requirements regarding the Governing Documents, including the enforcement and amendment of Governing Documents, operating rules, ownership rights and interests. It also covers Homeowners Association governing and operations, fiscal requirements, assessment collection, transfer of ownership rights, improvements, and construction defect litigation.

At times, there may be a conflict between the various governing documents.  Common interest developments have a number of documents controlling the development.  Not all documents are created equal – some have more authority than others.  As provided for in Civil Code §4205 (effective January 1, 2014), the hierarchy of authority is as follows:

1.    Law (unless that particular law defers to the governing documents)

2.    CC&Rs

3.    Articles of Incorporation

4.    By-laws

5.    Rules & Regulations

Your Association Manager is a great resource to answer any specific questions you may have regarding your Association’s Governing Documents.