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 governing documents must also be consistent with both state and federal law. The order of control from highest to lowest is:

  1. Federal Law - Federal laws supersede any state laws or association documents which conflict with them. Examples of federal laws applicable to HOA s are t he Fair Housing Act , 1 the United States Constitution , and the FCC’s regulations.
  2. State Law - Numerous state laws apply to HOA s. In particular:
    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; the Nonprofit Corporations Act (NCA) 4 or the Nonprofit Miscellaneous and Mutual Corporations Act (NMMCA) 5 will apply depending on which statute the association was incorporated under.

(3) City/County law The laws of the city and county where the community is located will also apply, such as t he building code or rental inspection laws (4) Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) Recording this document with the county creates the restrictive covenants, and may create the homeowners association . This document governs the property rights and obligations. (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 . 8 (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). 3 RCW 64.38 et seq. 4 RCW 24.03 et seq . 5 RCW 24.06 et seq . 6 It is usually not possible to tell from the governing documents which statute an association was incorporated under. We recommend that an association comply with the more restrictive law. 7 RCW 24.03.145 (Filing of articles of incorporation); RCW 24.03.150 (Effect of filing the articles of incorporation); RCW 24.06.025 (Articles of incorporation). 8 RCW 24.03.070 (Bylaws) and RCW ( 24.06.095 ) (Bylaws) relate to Bylaws of nonprofit corporatio ns. RCW 24.03.0 25 and RCW 24.06.025 provide that the Articles of Incorporation prevail over the Bylaws if they are inconsistent.