Associations Need to Address Day-To Day Living Rules

Article excerpt

This is the first in a two-part series on the adoption of rules and regulations at a condominium, townhouse and homeowner association. This first article begins by explaining the importance of and the need for adopting rules and regulations that more clearly specify day-to-day operating matters.

The balance of the column describes the process for adopting rules and regulations, beginning with the initial drafting and adopting of rules and regulations.

The next column will conclude with putting the rules and regulations into practice, enforcing the rules and the need for periodic reviews and modifications to the rules and regulations.

The typical declaration and by-laws for most condominium, townhome and homeowner associations are generally deficient in providing specific information about the requirements of day-to-day living at the property.

Further, an association's declaration and by-laws usually require a 2/3 or 3/4 majority vote before any amendments and/or changes can be approved.

As a result, it is not practical to incorporate laundry room hours, garbage pick up times and policies, pool rules and guidelines, etc. into the declaration and by-laws when modifications are so difficult and cumbersome to put into place. Furthermore, issues related to these matters are susceptible to frequent changes and would be too cumbersome to bring about a modification each time a point changes.

Therefore, most governing documents and in some cases statutory authority (e.g. Section 18.4 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act [765 ILCS 6-5/18.4 et seq.]) authorizes a board of directors the power to adopt reasonable rules and regulations.

The rules and regulations are a significant source of authority for the board because they represent "living and breathing" document that governs the day-to-day operations of any association. The rules and regulations should "read between the lines" of the declaration and by-laws and have the same force and effect as the governing documents. At the same time, they also should be easy to understand.

Although a developer may use an identical set of declarations and by-laws for more that one property, this cannot be said for rules and regulations. No two developments are exactly alike in the way they are administered. More and more, courts are giving greater credibility to the specificity of the rules as opposed to the ambiguous, generic provisions of declarations and by-laws.

Initial drafting

Once a board is controlled by the membership, one of its very first tasks should be the adoption of the initial set of rules and regulations by which the property will be operated.

First the board should create a committee comprised of one board member and several interested homeowners. …