How To Change Your Homeowners’ Association

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

To change a Homeowner’s Association one must learn, know, and understand how this particular Homeowner’s Association is put together.  What this means is that the homeowner’s association as a group was put together in a particular way so that the group could function as the original people wanted.  Usually a homeowner’s association is an incorporated entity much like a business is.  It usually has a set of rules called bylaws, which is an old method of writing down the laws by which the entity will run.  Bylaws will specify the method by which the homeowner’s association can change the bylaws.  Changing the bylaws often requires a certain percentage of the entity shareholders to vote for the change to make it happen.  Every person who owns property within the territory that the homeowner’s association governs is a shareholder unless the bylaws state otherwise.

To make a change to the homeowner’s association’s bylaws, those who want the change need to be able to convince a sufficient number of other homeowner’s association shareholders to agree to vote to change the bylaws.  Sometimes the bylaws require a special meeting or even a few meetings to discuss the one or more changes that are being proposed.  At some point a request can be made to have a vote of the shareholders to cut off or shorten delay.  Most homeowner’s association’s bylaws have a statement about what common set of meeting and voting rules the group will use.  Most homeowner’s association’s bylaws use Robert’s Rule of Order as it covers essentially every situation that might arise in a group’s workings.  Robert’s Rules of Order are very inexpensive to purchase.  If this is what the homeowner’s association’s bylaws use, get a copy and learn them very well.  It will help in maneuvering in the meetings and voting if necessary.

Of course, no one wants to have a battle when a change in homeowner’s association’s bylaws comes up.  However, it is extremely rare to propose a change and have the change slide through easily.  One must expect some to not want the change, regardless of how reasonable the change might be.  Persuasion is the key.  Find the reason the change will benefit the majority of the shareholders.  Do not just put up a lightweight façade as a reason.  Find the deep rooted, very worthwhile reason.  Sell that to the majority.

Now, the selling is the key.  Do it quietly, in simple conversations.  Be very calm in the presentation.  Do not rise in emotion when the proposal is attacked, for attacked it will be, and likely with both reasonable and rather pure emotional unreasonable arguments.  “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you …” is a very telling line in what one will face when one seeks a change.  Those who will watch the arguments will develop opinions of those arguing.  The one who seeks change must be the one who earns the respect of those watching.  This is an initial step in persuading the undecided when it comes time to vote.

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