Governing Documents for Condominium and Homeowner Associations don’t age well. They are not like a fine wine. They are more like cheap cheese. Remember, they were likely written by a developer who really only cared about them until it had sold all of its units or lots (assume 10 years or less). So if your documents were written before 2008, it is unlikely that they have anything in them to deal with:
- Emotional Support Animals;
- Short Term Rentals (AirBnB was founded in 2008 in San Francisco);
- Medical Marijuana; or
- Unit or Lot Owners buying insurance to cover a large insurance deductibles that could be assessed against them if their actions cause an insured loss.
Many owners believe that regardless of what their documents say, if they have handled things in a certain way, precedent somehow comes into play to make otherwise moldy documents acceptable. That is simply not true. Procedures of the board may establish some sort of precedent, but on the whole, courts follow what the documents say, regardless of some board or association “precedent.”
If your documents have become moldy and refer to situations that no longer exist, they also likely do not include some of the requirements that all associations need: procedures for dealing with smoking complaints, noise complaints, rule violations, and enforcement mechanisms.
So to those of you who think your association documents are the exception and that they have in fact aged well – I say then enjoy them. Follow them. Enforce them. But for those of you who believe that your association documents have turned to vinegar – I say amend them. Make them what your association wants or needs so that you can actually enforce them. The best part is that once they are brought up to date it will make your life easier. Considering what you get paid for this officer or director position, wouldn’t it be nice to at least have one less thing to worry about. So amend your documents and then relax with a nice bottle of wine with some fine cheese.