What are CC&R’s?

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If you plan on buying a condo, townhouse, or any home in a complex, then you need to know what CC&R’s are.

CC&R’s stands for Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions which are the governing documents that state limitations and rules placed on a group of homes by a builder, developer, neighborhood association and/or homeowner association.  All condos and townhouses have CC&R’s; however, so do most planned unit developments and established neighborhoods. Any homeowner, tenant, or guest who resides in a property with CC&R’s must obey these legal documents, which may also known as bylaws, master deed, the houses rules or another name. These documents and rules are legally enforceable by the homeowners association, unless a specific provision conflicts with federal, state or local laws.

What are the consequences of breaking a rule? 
Penalties might include fines, forced compliance, a lawsuit by the association, and emotional distress. For example, if an association prohibits dogs in the condominium and an owner gets caught with one residing in their unit, he or she might be forced to get rid of the dog in addition to facing fines and a lawsuit. It is important to read the rules thoroughly before you buy an association-governed home.

Can rules be changed?
The procedure for changing the rules should be explained in the governing documents.  Usually a majority vote or, in some cases, a super-majority, will be required however, changing existing rules is rarely easy. HOA presidents and directors have admitted there isn’t enough attendance at a meeting to change a rule, even if 100 percent of the people who are fighting for the change are present.

What are the most important provisions in the governing documents?
I always review the minutes of the most recent meeting which should reflect the association’s operating budget to make sure the complex has enough reserves and is not reflected as a negative. Be sure to keep an eye out for any provisions governing the election of the board members, subleasing and restrictions on remodeling your unit. You can also request a copy of any engineering, architectural or structural inspection reports.

*It’s always a good idea to seek legal counsel if you have questions about the governing documents or rules. Be sure to read the documents yourself and preparing a list of questions, then asking your attorney to interpret anything you don’t understand.

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