Governing Documents: Hierarchy of Control

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An HOA is regulated by governing documents that work together in a hierarchy. If lower level documents conflict with upper level documents, the upper level documents control . All Homeowner Association Governing Documents must also be consistent with both state and federal law. The order of control from highest to lowest is:

  1. Federal Laws - Federal laws supersede any state laws or association documents which conflict with them. Examples of federal laws applicable to HOA s are the Fair Housing Act[1], the United States Constitution , and the FCC’s regulations[2].
  2. State Laws - Numerous state laws apply to HOA s. Some examples:
    1. Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
    2. The Pennsylvania Uniform Planned Community Act of 1997, 68 Pa.C.S. § 5101 – § 5414
    3. Most HOAs are incorporated as non-profits or not-for-profit;
      1. Pennsylvania Code, Title 19, Corporations and Business Associations, Chapter 41, Nonprofit Corporations Generally
      2. The Nonprofit Corporation Law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (the “NPCL”)(15 Pa. C.S. §5101 et. seq.
  3. City, County, and Township Laws - The laws of the city and county where the community is located will also apply, such as the building code or rental inspection laws.
  4. Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions, Easements and Assessments - Recording this document with the county creates the restrictive covenants, and may create the homeowners association. This document governs the property rights and obligations of the homeowners.
  5. Articles of Incorporation - Articles of Incorporation are the official documents that create a corporation.
  6. Bylaws - Bylaws relate to the administrative operation and management of the organization.
  7. Rules & Regulations - Rules and regulations may be adopted by an association after its creation and then amended as necessary. The rules and regulations may govern daily life, addressing things like parking, quiet hours, and fines for rule violations. The rules and regulations will likely evolve over time according to the needs of the owners in the community.


  1. 42 USC §3601 et seq. The Fair Housing Act prohibits types of discrimination (such as that based on race, religion, or sex) in sales, rentals, and other transactions relating to real estate.
  2. For example, 47 CFR 1.4000 (satellite dishes).

Please see disclaimer. Consult a Licensed and Competent Attorney for precise and accurate interpretations of Law