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Understanding the Hierarchy of Authority for HOA Documents

Every condominium and homeowner association has governing documents that are specific to that community. Governing documents set expectations and provide the legal structure for homeowners and the association. Board members can often be confused or wonder about the hierarchy of authority. Which document takes precedence?

While there should be no conflicting rules in your governing documents, it’s still a loose order of authority because not all documents address all the issues. At the top of the hierarchy are state and/or federal statutes. These vary by state, so it’s important to know your state statutes.

The general order of authority for association governing documents is:

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  1. Recorded map, plat, or plan – Some type of a map that is recorded by the County Recorder’s office is essential. This helps define ownership for common areas and units in addition to proper location.

  2. Declaration and covenants, conditions, & restrictions (CC&Rs) – These documents specify the right of ownership, including the use, requirements and restrictions of the property.

  3. Articles of incorporation (if incorporated) – Articles establish the corporate structure of the association. They also may definite basic purposes and powers and identify the initial Board of Directors.

  4. Bylaws – These documents contain formally adopted administration and management regulations for the association. They outline operational procedures such as voting, quorum requirements, Board meetings, notice requirements, office election rules and other similar information.

  5. Rules and regulations – These documents formalize and enact rules and regulations that are formally adopted by the association Board. They outline owners’ rights and obligations, architectural guidelines, enforcement and collection procedures, and rules for using the association facilities.

  6. General resolutions – These are stand-alone documents that specify a rule or regulation that is formally adopted to govern the association. Each rule must include the purpose, authority, scope and specifications.


Wise Property Solutions is a property management company serving East Tennessee with offices in Knoxville, TN and the Tri-Cities, TN-VA. Specializing in Condominium Association Management, Home Owners Association Management, HOA Management and Gated Community Association Management.

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