Category Archives: HOA Documents

homeowners association

Decoding HOA Governing Documents: The Declaration

A Declaration is an essential part of the governing documents of a homeowner’s association (HOA). It is a legal document that outlines the rules, regulations, and restrictions that govern the community. The Declaration establishes the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) that homeowners must abide by, ensuring that the community operates smoothly and harmoniously.

The Declaration is created when the developer of the community creates the HOA, and it becomes a legally binding document that all residents must follow. The Declaration typically outlines the HOA’s purpose, its powers, and its limitations, and it may also contain provisions that govern the use of common areas, the maintenance of the community’s appearance, and other rules that help to maintain the property values of the community.

One of the most important functions of the Declaration is to establish the rights and obligations of the HOA and its members. This includes the HOA’s authority to enforce its rules and regulations, levy fines, and take legal action against homeowners who violate the CC&Rs. The Declaration also outlines the procedures that the HOA must follow to enforce its rules, such as giving notice to the homeowner and providing an opportunity for a hearing.

Another critical function of the Declaration is to establish the rights and responsibilities of individual homeowners. The document typically outlines the types of modifications that homeowners can make to their properties, such as the color of their homes, landscaping, and other exterior features. The Declaration may also specify the size and types of vehicles that homeowners can park on their property and the types of pets that are allowed in the community.

The Declaration also sets out the financial obligations of homeowners. This includes the payment of assessments or dues to the HOA, which are used to cover the costs of maintaining common areas, landscaping, and other shared amenities. The Declaration may also specify the penalties for non-payment of assessments or dues, which can include late fees, interest charges, and even foreclosure.

The Declaration is a critical document in the governing documents of an HOA. It establishes the rules and regulations that govern the community and helps to ensure that the property values of the community are maintained. It also sets out the rights and responsibilities of both the HOA and its members and outlines the financial obligations of homeowners. Homeowners should review the Declaration carefully to understand their rights and responsibilities and to ensure that they comply with the CC&Rs.


Decoding HOA Governing Documents: The Bylaws

A homeowners’ association, or HOA, is a legal entity that governs a residential community or neighborhood. HOAs are usually established to maintain the common areas and amenities of the community and to enforce certain rules and regulations that govern how property owners may use and improve their individual properties. One of the primary tools that an HOA uses to enforce these rules is a set of bylaws.

Bylaws are the rules and regulations that govern how an HOA operates. They provide a framework for the HOA’s activities, including the election and duties of the board of directors, the frequency and procedures for meetings, the procedures for amending the bylaws, and the powers and duties of the HOA’s officers and committees. Bylaws are typically established when an HOA is formed and can be modified by the board of directors or the membership of the HOA.

Here are some of the key elements of HOA bylaws:

Membership: The bylaws will define who is eligible to become a member of the HOA and the requirements for membership. This can include property ownership, residency, or other criteria.

Board of Directors: The bylaws will outline the structure of the board of directors, including the number of directors, the term of their office, and the method of their election. The bylaws will also define the duties and responsibilities of the board of directors, including their authority to enforce the rules and regulations of the HOA.

Meetings: The bylaws will establish the frequency and procedures for meetings of the HOA, including the annual meeting of members and any special meetings that may be required. The bylaws will also define the quorum requirements for meetings and the procedures for conducting business at meetings.

Voting: The bylaws will define the voting procedures for members of the HOA, including the number of votes each member is entitled to and the method of casting votes. The bylaws may also establish requirements for voting by proxy or electronic means.

Amendments: The bylaws will outline the procedures for amending the bylaws, including the number of members required to approve any changes and the notice that must be provided to members prior to any vote on amendments.

Enforcement: The bylaws will establish the procedures for enforcing the rules and regulations of the HOA, including the authority of the board of directors to levy fines, impose sanctions, or take legal action against members who violate the rules.

HOA bylaws can be a complex and technical document, and it is important for members of an HOA to understand their contents and implications. Homeowners should receive a copy of the bylaws when they purchase their property, and they should take the time to review them carefully. If there are any questions or concerns about the bylaws, homeowners should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional who is knowledgeable about HOA law.

Bylaws are an essential part of an HOA’s governance structure, providing the framework for the HOA’s activities and the rules and regulations that govern the behavior of its members. Understanding the bylaws is essential for homeowners who wish to participate fully in the life of their community and to avoid any conflicts or misunderstandings with the HOA.

The Committee Charter: Setting Clear Guidelines for your HOA’s Committees

A Committee Charter is a document that outlines the purpose, goals, and responsibilities of a specific committee within an organization. In the context of a homeowners association (HOA), a Committee Charter serves as a guide for the board of directors and the members of a committee to ensure that the committee operates efficiently and effectively.

A Committee Charter should include important information such as the committee’s purpose, the objectives it is expected to achieve, its composition, how it will operate, and how decisions will be made. The Charter should also outline the committee’s scope of authority and the limits of its decision-making powers. This is important to ensure that the committee operates within its defined responsibilities and does not overstep its boundaries.

Having a Committee Charter in place provides several benefits for HOA boards. Firstly, it helps to ensure that committees are working towards the same objectives and that everyone is clear about their responsibilities. Secondly, it clarifies the roles and responsibilities of each committee member, which can help to avoid confusion and potential conflicts. Thirdly, the Charter helps to ensure that committees are working in a structured and organized manner, which can lead to more efficient and effective decision-making.

Another key advantage of having a Committee Charter is that it provides a clear reference point for future decisions. If there is any ambiguity or uncertainty about the committee’s purpose or objectives, the Charter can be used as a reference to clarify these issues. Furthermore, if the HOA board needs to review the committee’s activities in the future, the Charter can serve as a record of its objectives, responsibilities, and actions.

A Committee Charter is an essential tool for HOA boards when forming committees. It provides a clear outline of the committee’s purpose, objectives, and responsibilities, helping to ensure that the committee operates efficiently and effectively. By providing a clear reference point for future decisions, the Charter helps to ensure that the committee is working towards its defined goals and objectives and that everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities.

Here’s an example of a committee charter for a social committee in an HOA:

Committee Charter for Social Committee of ABC Homeowner’s Association

Purpose: The purpose of the Social Committee is to plan, organize, and execute various social events and activities for the members of the ABC Homeowner’s Association. The events will aim to build community spirit, foster relationships among members, and provide a sense of belonging to the neighborhood.

Composition: The Social Committee shall consist of a Chairperson and at least two (2) other members, appointed by the Board of Directors. The Chairperson shall be the primary point of contact and lead the committee in its duties.


Plan, organize, and execute social events and activities that are in line with the purpose of the committee.

Ensure that all events are well-planned, organized, and executed in a timely and efficient manner.

Keep the Board of Directors informed of the committee’s activities and seek approval for any major events.

Develop and maintain a budget for all events and activities and ensure that expenses are within the approved budget.

Coordinate with other committees, as needed, to ensure seamless execution of events.

Meetings: The Social Committee shall meet as often as necessary to plan and execute events. Meetings shall be held in accordance with the rules and procedures established by the Board of Directors. Minutes of each meeting shall be taken and a copy shall be provided to the Board of Directors.

Reporting: The Social Committee shall provide regular reports to the Board of Directors on the status of its activities and events, including the budget and any expenditures. The committee shall also provide recommendations for future events and activities.

Termination: The Social Committee shall continue until dissolved by the Board of Directors. The committee may be dissolved by the Board of Directors if it is deemed to be inactive or not fulfilling its purpose.

Amendment: This charter may be amended by a majority vote of the Board of Directors.

How to Create an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Plan

People frequently avoid dealing with uncomfortable problems because they are unsure of what to do. Although few people relish conflict, your HOA’s Board of Directors must prepare for problems.

No community escapes unpleasant issues forever. A dispute of some type will eventually afflict even the sweetest community. What you and your HOA Board can do is develop an alternative dispute resolution plan. Then, you are ready to respond in a rational, predefined way when a problem erupts.

ADR Supports Compliance With Texas Law

Texas law calls upon HOA management to engage with parties subject to many types of enforcement actions prior to filing a lawsuit. An alternative dispute resolution plan fits neatly into regulations that an HOA management team should observe prior to going to court.

Resolving Conflicts With Mediation and Arbitration

Alternative dispute resolution typically involves mediation or arbitration. Your plan will specify one or both as the route to resolving conflicts.


You hire a professional mediator who acts as a neutral third party. The mediator meets with the parties in dispute and manages the conversation so that both sides may present their complaints and propose remedies. The role of a mediator is to uncover common ground and guide both sides toward a mutually acceptable resolution.


You hire a professional arbitrator who acts as a neutral third party and presides over the dispute discussion. An arbitrator differs substantially from a mediator in that the person has the authority to decide the outcome. Your alternative dispute resolution plan would need to clarify that arbitration results in a binding decision. Arbitration often removes the parties’ ability to take the case to court.

When Would an HOA Need ADR?

Ideally, an HOA’s board has a plan before a problem flares up. Your board should communicate the plan to property owners to know their rights and what steps to take when they have disputes.

As you might already know, disputes can arise from almost anything. They could emerge between a property owner and the HOA or between two or more property owners. Many people will immediately assume they have to take their complaints to court, but alternative dispute resolution will divert them away from costly and often damaging litigation.

Reasons an HOA Board Should Embrace ADR

Even when your lawyer tells you that the law is firmly on your side, this does not mean that a lawsuit will produce the outcome you expect. Success in court comes at a high cost, not only in terms of time and money but also because it eliminates the chance of a useful compromise.

On the other hand, mediation or arbitration can resolve a problem quickly and for much less money than litigation. You can hire a mediator or arbitrator faster than you can get a court date. These professionals can encourage complainants to fix a problem. The process possesses a collaborative nature that cannot be found in the court system and that is antagonistic by design.

Explore the Benefits of Professional HOA Management

In addition to adopting an alternative dispute resolution plan, your board might reduce conflicts by working with a professional HOA management company like Goodwin & Company. Reach us today to see how your community could benefit from our services.

How to Craft a Winning HOA Snow Removal Policy

Although Dallas and Fort Worth recently experienced their first snow of the year, it’s always best to keep in mind that Texas winter weather can be unexpected, and more snow can easily be in the near future.

While snow days are fun, snow can also prove to be a slip and fall problem or accident hazard when left unattended throughout an HOA community.

Your association should always have a snow removal policy prepared. However, if you know your policy needs revisions, this post is your first chance at creating a policy that works hard to keep your residents safe.

Here’s a closer look at how you should review your current snow removal policy, how owners can get involved, and what specifics to look out for when hiring a third-party snow removal service.

Review Your Current Snow Removal Policy

Before the next snow falls, you want to make sure that your association’s snow removal guidelines are clear. Some snow removal policies have the association heavily involved with removal while others have a more hands-off approach when winter weather strikes.

If your current snow removal policy isn’t up-to-date and the current sitting board is ready to make changes, some of the biggest items for members to consider are:

  • Determining if a snow plowing service is necessary
  • Which parts of the community the HOA is responsible for clearing
  • Where does owner responsibility begin and end

As with all policy changes, make sure that your association owners remain informed. After all, if changes are made without proper communication, policies won’t be properly carried out and your HOA could be held liable for any incidents that occur.

Defining Owner Snow Removal Responsibilities

When it comes to figuring out what your owners are responsible are during a snowfall, the best way to approach it is by focusing directly on their property.

Most associations hold owners responsible for clearing out:

  • Their driveways
  • Personal parking spaces
  • Walkways leading to their home

When defining homeowner responsibilities, it’s also beneficial to encourage homeowners to help out around the community where they can by keeping well-used pathways clear and assisting older neighbors with their snow removal needs.

Hiring a Snow Removal Service

If your association decides that it needs to hire a third-party snow removal company, your management team can easily help you find the right vendor for your needs.

However, it’s also important to keep these three factors in mind when selecting the right vendor for the job.

Gather Cost Information

Your association’s annual budget is limited, so make sure anyone you hire is ready to work within your means.

One of the biggest aspects of the decision is finding out if they charge by the hour or a flat rate. Also, before signing any contract, always review it for any small print additional fees that could go unnoticed.

Document Their Services

Always go with a company that offers your association proof that they’ve efficiently completed their services. These records are not only great for your confidence in the safety of your community but can also serve as evidence if an injury occurs on your property and a lawsuit ensues.

Ensure They Are Insured

Finally, you always want to make sure that any vendor you hire is insured. Liability is something you don’t want on your hands, especially when it comes to something as slick as snow removal.

Always double-check that your contract relieves your association of any liability if a snow removal employee slips and hurts themselves on your property.

Craft a Winning Snow Removal Policy With the Help of Goodwin & Company

If you are a member of your association’s Board and know that your team needs help perfecting its snow removal policy, you need advice from HOA management professionals.

The team at Goodwin & Company has decades of experience helping the associations we serve to become the safest, most appealing neighborhoods within their local communities.

Trust us to be your behind-the-scenes support, while your Board of Directors helps its community move into a brighter future. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.