Rule Me Out

By Evelyn Dufford, CMCA, PCAM

The last installment we talked about the neighbors and violating the CC&R’s.  This time let’s talk about the rules for the Association.  WHAT, you don’t have any?  Well then, let’s start at the beginning.

Why adopt rules?  First the CC&R’s or Declarations are written in legalese, lengthy and usually small print. They are difficult to read on many levels.  By creating rules we can make them easier to read with larger print and in plain English.  Let’s face it, if the rules were on YouTube and set to music, it would be viral and everyone would know what’s in them.  And since most of us can’t dance, let alone choreograph a viral video, let’s just write a set of rules that are easy to read.

The first step to getting these rules written is to take the CC&R’s and find the sections that talk about restrictions and Architectural Control Committee.  Circle them in red or cut the sections out that you want included in the rules.  We are setting out to make a rough draft.  Just because we don’t include them in the rules doesn’t mean they are not enforceable, so be selective.  Include the ones that you have seen in the community or you anticipate to be a normal, everyday type of issue. Also include the one that you know need to be there to set up the foundation of the rules.

On the other side, what can be included that are not in the Declarations.  This is where we call upon our experts, the attorney’s.  My inclination is to not include anything that isn’t addressed in the Declarations.  There is a fine line between what clarification is and what needs to be an amendment to the Declarations.  Let’s use the experts that would help us defend them in court.  They can make the determination between clarification and amendment.

Now we have our rough draft.  Let’s get some feedback and buy in from the community.  Distribute them to the community either by email or by snail mail.  Make sure you explain what you’re doing and why.  Give everyone a couple of weeks to go over them and ask for input.  We could hold a town hall type of meeting or you could have the membership email their comments. Be sure to put deadline on the emails.  Once you gather the input, really consider the suggestions. Ya know how that one friend that always asked for your advice and never takes it?  And you wonder why they even bother?  Well, don’t let your community wonder the same thing about the Board.  If you can’t make the changes that have been suggested, let the member who made the suggestion know why.  Otherwise, seriously consider the comments. Yes, you are going to get the suggestion to disbanding the association, that’s why I prefer the meeting over the emails. It’s much easier to be rude and disrespectful by email than in person.

Now that you got it thru rough draft and comments, it’s time to adopt this fine work of art.  This is done at a regular Board meeting and memorialized in meeting minutes.  Be sure to put an effective date in the meeting minutes and on the Rules.

I encourage you to trade criticism with curiosity.  Next installment we’ll talk about enforcement and due process. Feel free to email me with your questions at evelynd@AssociationServicesWa.com.