CC&Rs 101: The “Boss Doc” of Texas Associations
Do your residents understand your CC&R's?
With the countless documents, rules, and regulations that go into running a successful association, no wonder board members and homeowners can feel overwhelmed! This is especially true when it comes to the “boss of all governing docs,” Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (a.k.a. CC&Rs). In the hierarchy of HOA and COA governing documents, CC&Rs rank just below Texas laws. If there’s any confusion about your community’s rules or if any governing documents contradict each other, your HOA CC&Rs have the final say.
In other words, think of CC&Rs as your board’s “Bill of Rights” that outlines how your association is run, from board operations to homeowner responsibilities. Compliance with your HOA CC&Rs are the key to a harmonious Texas community. So, let’s finally cut the confusion and simplify CC&Rs once and for all!
What are CC&Rs?
When residents move into a HOA or COA community, they enter a legally binding contract with the association’s board known as the “Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions” (CC&Rs or CCRs). Enforced by your board or a property management company, CC&Rs are your guardrails for:
board member duties
…and much more.
The list above may seem like everyday functions of any community, but they should not be taken lightly – failure to follow HOA CC&Rs is a breach of contract and can lead to serious legal consequences.
Remember: CC&Rs for Texas associations are not the same as state laws. Governing documents cannot overstep state laws, meaning there are some things the HOA or COA board cannot prohibit. For example, Chapter 202 of the Texas Property Code allows homeowners to:
display religious items
have standby electric generators
install solar panels
keep rain barrels
lawfully possess firearms
proudly display the Texas flag or American flag outside the home
setup lemonade stands
Of course, there are a few exceptions to this. For example, associations can prohibit the display of religious items on traffic control devices or fire hydrants.
Speaking of state laws, per Texas law, each resident should receive a copy of the HOA CC&Rs upon joining the community. In addition, he/she should be able to download the latest version anytime from the association’s website (according to Chapter 209 of Texas Property Code 207.006). A seasoned property management company can streamline the “paperwork” part of this process and distribute CC&Rs so board members can focus on serving residents.
Examples - CC&Rs for Texas associations may include details that look like this:
- Purpose of the Association. The Association shall be established as a non-profit civic organization, comprised of members who perform functions that support the well-being of all residents and maintain the overall cohesive aesthetic of the Development.
- Vehicles. The term “vehicles” refers to motorcycles, trucks, vans, and automobiles. All vehicles should be parked within garages, driveways, or designated paved parking lots. Inoperable or abandoned vehicles on the property are strictly prohibited.
- Exterior of Dwelling. All houses on Lots in the Development must be fully constructed before they are occupied. The driveways must be paved with concrete, and all front yards must be Zoysia or Bermuda grass. Siding material for all houses shall be brick, stucco, stone, or vinyl.
What are the benefits of HOA CC&Rs?
From maintaining property values to fostering a sense of community, CC&Rs help keep Texas associations functioning smoothly and harmoniously. Before your board can effectively enforce such rules and regulations, it’s important to communicate the benefits of this governing “boss doc” to residents, including:
Greater peace of mind knowing that you live in a community with consistent, unified standards
Enjoyment of shared amenities like parks, pools, etc. – without having to bear the cost alone
Well-maintained neighborhood – no worrying about wild paint colors or unsightly boat parking year-round
Protected views by restrictions on what kind of buildings can go up near others
Assurance of knowing where your association fees are going – toward reserve accounts to cover any community upgrades and maintenance
Who makes CC&Rs?
Developers usually create CC&Rs, while the community's association board later amends them. Your board can modify CC&Rs to fit your community's trends and needs. These updates are called “bylaws” and should be based on the actions of the elected board representing the association members.
Why do CC&Rs matter for Texas associations?
HOA CC&Rs are like the rules of the road - they create guidelines for all community members to follow so that all residents can coexist in peace (or as close to it as possible). They are legally enforceable – for homeowners to enjoy all the perks of a HOA community, they must uphold their end of the contract that comes with living there. This means accountability is vital.
HOA CC&Rs ensure all residents are held to the same standards, fostering a sense of fairness and community. An experienced property management company can tailor a specific system for your board to help enforce HOA CC&Rs equally for every homeowner. This creates an environment where everyone feels valued and safe in a well-maintained community.
This all seems a bit stuffy. How do we break down HOA CC&Rs to homeowners?
To effectively talk to residents about HOA CC&Rs, keep it simple. The easier it is to understand, the easier it is to comply.
Clearly state the reason for CC&Rs, the “boss doc” of all governing documents
Explain the benefits – how they help keep the community beautiful and safe
Outline how they will be enforced – board members and all residents will be equally held accountable
Detail violation policy – this is not meant to punish anyone - it’s to ensure compliance for the good of the whole community; most violations are easy to fix at little to no cost
Enforce CC&Rs consistently – a property management company can help establish a system specifically for your association
Make it an ongoing conversation between the board and homeowners. Communicate through multiple channels like email, newsletters, social media, meetings (in-person or virtual), or direct mail. Establish regular, friendly reminders about HOA CC&Rs to keep them fresh on residents’ minds.
Make it easy to access information by setting up a FAQ page on your website or working with a management partner on mass communications about the importance of CC&Rs for Texas associations. Even better, provide customer care centers or online resident portals like FirstService Residential’s CONNECT™ that residents can count on 24/7.
How does the board enforce HOA CC&Rs without looking like the “bad guy”?
Explain the process upfront. Transparency and setting expectations from the get-go can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Things run smoother when all community members know what's expected of them.
Be consistent. Residents talk to each other. Don't get caught in a game of telephone! Make sure your messaging is consistent with all residents on all communication channels.
Follow up and close the loop. Look for trends in ongoing violations. This may be a sign that certain CC&Rs need to be communicated better.
This is where a partnership with a good property management company can be a lifesaver for boards. When the property managers enforce the rules and ensure everyone abides by them, it’s less likely to interfere with the relationships board members have built with homeowners. When a property management partner takes care of the “business” side of enforcement, board members can focus on what’s most important – connecting with homeowners and serving their Texas communities.
Video: CC&Rs 101
For a quick overview of the “what” and “why” of HOA CC&Rs for Texas associations, check out this brief video below:
If you’d like to learn more about how to simplify your community’s CC&Rs for easier enforcement, team members at FirstService Residential Texas are happy to sit down with you and take a closer look are your association’s governing documents. Contact us today.