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Difference between condominium declaration and bylaws?

Posted on Mon, Nov 12, 2012 @ 07:17 AM
What is the difference between the Declaration of Condominium and the Condominium Bylaws? If the Declaration says the condominium may not be expanded beyond the current boundaries can the Association change the Declaration to allow expansion and force owners to accept responsibility for the loan to expand the building?

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Many things are possible by the use of the proper legal process, depending on state law, the declarations and the by-laws. 
The Declarations are more like the constitution and the by-laws are like the body of statutes. It is usually easier to change the body of statutes. It sounds like the answer to your question about expansion would be a resounding NO! 
(unless they first changed the declarations). The devil is in the details of the particular scenario you laid out.

posted @ Monday, November 12, 2012 7:33 AM by john_mastro

In PA, the Declaration is broad, in essense creating the Association and its rights and obligations, whereas the Bylaws provide for the operation and policy of the Association. Again, in PA, the Declaration can be amended by a 2/3 affirmative vote of the homeowners (unless the Declaration itself calls for a higher percentage).

posted @ Monday, November 12, 2012 7:37 AM by Sara Austin

The easiest way to understand is to consider all the laws and governing laws as layers of precedence.  
Starting at the highest: 
1. Federal law 
2. State law 
3. Local law 
4. Declaration 
5. Covenants 
6. Bylaws 
7. Rules and Regulations 
8. Policies 
I am sure that others will correct my naming convention or order. I may have even missed one. 
In NC, both the state condominium law and our covenants have wording in some sections something to the effect, "unless specified in bylaws." What that means is that if the bylaws don't specify the number of Directors required for the Board, then what the covenants specify take precedent.

posted @ Monday, November 12, 2012 7:43 AM by Ron - NC

Realized that I did not answer your question. 
Yes, the HOA can change the Declarations or Covenants. However, it should require the approval of a high percentage of owners. In addition, it may require approval by your local government planning. In my case it would require approval of our town planning board and the town council because it would actually change the master plan filed with the county.

posted @ Monday, November 12, 2012 7:50 AM by Ron - NC

Yes. May be difficult to get all members to agree. But watch out for something in a higher level of goverance that would take precedence. For example, in my Maine condo, while there is a 75% requirement to amend the declaration, the Maine Condominium Act says if a change to the section of the declaration referring to percentage of ownership is desired, such would require 100% approval of the membership (this part is not referenced in the bylaws). And, of course, there are probably all sorts of local laws and ordinances involved if you want to expand. As for "forcing" owners to take on responsibility for a loan, I would think that your owners must have to power to approve or decline any capital expansion and thus the manner of paying for it.

posted @ Monday, November 12, 2012 10:14 AM by R

Declarations are very close to being a contract and are written in stone. It uually takes a super majority of owners to change a dedclaration. Bylaws are basically an administrative fundction. They spell out how the association will enforce the Declaration. NO! The association cannot charge a member for anything unless the Declaration so states that it can.

posted @ Monday, November 12, 2012 2:59 PM by Don

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