The Maryland lawyers at Cowie & Mott provide legal representation and advice to community associations regarding association governance in Maryland and the District of Columbia. As the governing body and elected representatives of the community, a condominium association or HOA board of directors has a legal responsibility to oversee and follow the rules and procedures of the community as set forth in the association’s governing documents (i.e., the bylaws, declarations and rules and regulations). If association assessments are unpaid, or association members violate the rules and regulations or documents or meetings requested, the association’s board of directors is charged with dealing these issues in accordance with the governing documents and applicable laws. Navigating these association governance responsibilities can be confusing especially when board member have no prior experience living in or governing a common ownership community and lack legal training. As non-paid volunteers elected from the community, board members should and do rely on the expertise and experience of their property managers and attorneys in guiding them and assisting them in taking the necessary action and leadership on behalf of the community. Cowie & Mott is here to help with association governance, including compliance with governing documents and applicable laws. We assists and direct the association board of directors in making the decisions necessary to resolve disputes and deal with it responsibilities of association governance in practical and lawful manner. We enforce the rules, obligation and restriction that govern the community association, including violations of community rules and regulations, violation of restrictions and covenants pertaining to use of units and common areas, proposed architectural changes, etc. We also assist condominium association and HOA ‘s governance by interpreting the governing documents and applicable laws, attending annual meetings, preparing official correspondence, drafting board resolutions, amending governing documents, and other association governance related matters.
The governing documents and laws that establish and control governance of an association, in order of hierarchy, are the following:
- The Condominium Act, Homeowners Association Act, and/or Maryland Cooperative Housing Corporation Act (the “Act”)
- The Declaration;
- The By-laws; and
- The Rules & Regulations
The Declaration, By-laws and Rules & Regulations all must must be consistent with the Act and must be reasonable. In the event of a conflict, the Act governs. Likewise the the by-laws must be consistent with the the declaration and in the event of a conflict, the declaration governs. The Rules and Regulations must be consistent with the by-laws and the declaration.
In a homeowners association, the declaration is referred to as a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (a “CC&R”) or a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Easements and Restrictions .
A Declaration is filed in the land records or with a public depository and establishes the existence of an association. It governs the use and ownership of the property within the boundaries of the association and includes legal descriptions of the individual units or lots and the common elements or common areas.
The By-laws deal with the governance of the association and how, as an organization, it is to be run. By way of example ithe qualifications and manner by which directors are elected and their terms, as well as the rules for holding meetings such the required quorum and the rules for membership voting.
The Rules & Regulations establish minimum standards for living in a community association generally for the purpose of promoting the safety, security or welfare of the owners and of the property or assets of the corporation. Typical they are aimed at preventing nuisance or interference between owners. Such as noise levels, pets, parking, operation of home businesses, smoking restrictions. These restrictions may also be found in the declaration, but they are more easily adopted in the context of a rule as circumstances may require.
Contact the Maryland condominium lawyers at Cowie & Mott, P.A. for references and a free consultation regarding your association governance issues in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
MARYLAND CONDOMINIUM ATTORNEYS & HOA LAWYERS