I.       INTRODUCTION

A. Community associations use covenants, rules, and architectural standards/guidelines to:

  • Maintain, preserve, enhance, and protect the property values and assets of the community.
  • Preserve the common scheme and harmonious design of the community.
  • Promote harmonious community living.

B. Covenants and rules and the fair enforcement are essential for community associations for several reasons:

  • There is less sense of community with more contact via social media and less face to face time and the covenants assist in dealing with the relationships between residents (owners and tenants).
  • Local governments are pushing more obligations onto associations.
  • In cases where rules have been poorly developed or enforced, the courts are ruling against community associations.

C.  Authority to make and enforce rules is created within state law and/or the Declaration and rests with the board of directors of the association. But the association manager is expected to:

  • Give the board practical, technical, and administrative assistance in processing and enforcing covenants and rules.
  • Assist the board and be the eyes and ears of the board.
  • Maintain records which can furnish legal support if board actions in adopting or enforcing rules are challenged.

 

II.       DEFINITIONS

A covenant affects the use and enjoyment of the property and is said to “run with the land” or “touch and concern” the property.  This means the covenant and the property are inseparable once the covenant is recorded, and all owners, present and future, are subject to the covenant.

A rule is a specific statement of required behavior the violation of which carries a penalty (e.g., fine, suspension of voting rights, etc.).  It is meant to clarify or fill in the gaps of the covenants not supplant the covenants.   It may never contradict the covenants.

An architectural or design standard/guideline is a specific type of rule that applies to the appearance of an owner’s lot, the exterior of his or her unit, and the interior of a unit in a multi-unit building to the extent it creates external effects.

 

III.       SCOPE OF COVENANTS (DEALING WITH USE RESTRICTIONS), RULES AND ARCHITECTURAL STANDARDS/GUIDELINES

In a community association, covenants, rules, and architectural standards/guidelines identify expected behavior, identify limitations, and assist in the governance of the community in three areas.  These areas may include the following but some areas may only be possible via covenants and some via rules:

A. The use of both common property and individual lots or units.

Rules and architectural standards/guidelines are developed in this area to promote conformity and harmonious living.

B. Changes in architecture, construction, or appearance of lots or units. Rules and architectural standards/guidelines are developed in this area in order to:

  • Establish and preserve a harmonious design for a community
  • Protect the value of the property
  • Protect against external affects of construction within units

C. The behavior of residents (owners and tenants), guests, and other visitors. Rules are developed in this area to protect owner and resident rights for the quiet enjoyment and use of their homes.

 

IV.         TYPICAL AREAS OF RESTRICTIONS IN COVENANTS, RULE-MAKING, AND ARCHITECTURAL STANDARDS/GUIDELINES

A. Restrictions found in covenants typically address signs, noise, trash, vehicles, business activities/residential use, size and type of dwelling, animals, sheds, antennas, parking, landscaping, fences, storage, nuisance, maintenance, lighting, renting, and leasing of units, and setbacks and easements.

B. Typical areas of rulemaking to clarify use restrictions include pets, parking, solicitation, maintenance of units, use of common areas and facilities like the pool and clubhouse, garbage and trash, and noise.

C. Architectural standards/guidelines frequently address colors and materials, fencing, decks and patios, exterior lighting, landscaping, xeriscaping, maintenance expectations, doors and windows, size and quantity of exterior buildings, building protrusions, such as skylights, water coolers, and AC units, outdoor equipment, such as playsets, solar.

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