There are many topics to consider when discussing community association governing documents. This includes the differences between the Declaration (CC&Rs), the Bylaws, the Plat, the Articles of Incorporation, and association rules, regulations, and resolutions; how the Oregon Condominium Act, Oregon Planned Community Act and Nonprofit Corporations Act are used as “gap-fillers”, in most cases, to the association’s governing documents; and how the more important the governing document, the more difficult it is to amend.
When it comes to an amendment, there are a number of things that board members and committees can do to give the amendment the greatest chance of approval by the owners. The first is to decide if the governing documents even need to be amended or if the issue can be solved through a resolution. Assuming an amendment is necessary, the next step would be to determine the percentage of homeowner approval needed. It is helpful at this point to do a straw poll to determine owner support for the conceptual amendment.
When the amendment has garnered support, it will need to be drafted and circulated. At this point it is helpful to hold town hall meetings to discuss the changes, why the changes are necessary and advertise the amendment. Committees can then be appointed to go door to door to educate the owners. This face to face interaction will encourage the owners to fill out and return the ballots giving you a higher chance of obtaining your necessary percentage of owner approval. After all, the more work that is done to educate and help owners understand the amendments, the greater the likelihood that the amendment will pass. Because amendments to governing documents have a significant impact on owners’ property rights, it is important that associations engage competent legal counsel to assist the association through the amendment process.