How are Homeowners Associations in Georgia Governed in General?
Although Georgia statutes governing homeowners’ associations and condominium associations are similar, it is important to understand which laws apply to your community by reading the Georgia HOA laws page. Georgia associations are governed by a board of directors initially appointed by the declarant (usually the developer) and then elected by homeowners in accordance with the association’s declaration of covenants (“declaration”). O.C.G.A. §44-3-227. The board, in turn, appoints officers to carry out the board’s duties and powers. O.C.G.A. §44-3-231(f). Duties and powers include enforcement of covenants, assessment and collection of member fees, maintenance of commons areas, and acting on behalf of the association in legal matters. An association’s corporate structure is governed by its articles of incorporation, a legal document prepared when the association organizes as a corporation. Eligibility criteria for officers and board-members is usually set forth in the declaration or articles of incorporation.
An association’s declaration is recorded with the county land records of the county in which the association is located and sets forth the association’s rules and covenants, the duties and powers of the board and officers, the manner in which association voting and elections occur, the process for calculating and collecting assessments, and any restrictions on the powers of the board or association. Lot owners and any occupants of homes within the association are legally required to comply with the declaration. O.C.G.A. §44-3-223. In the event of non-compliance, the association, acting through the board, can bring an action against the non-compliant member to recover amounts owed to the association or to compel compliance by court order. O.C.G.A. §44-3-223. Individual lot owners are also authorized to bring compliance actions against other noncompliant owners. Id.
Association members have a right to vote on certain association matters, including election of board-members and adoption or amendment of covenants. Voting occurs at member meetings, which must be held at least once per year, but are otherwise controlled by the association’s declaration and articles of incorporation. For a vote to occur, a quorum (at least 1/3 of possible voters) must be present at the beginning of the meeting. O.C.G.A. §44-3-228. Votes are apportioned as one vote per lot. O.C.G.A. §44-3-224.
Voting rights and procedures for members of a community association are extremely important as the right to vote for the Board of Directors and other important issues that affect a member’s ownership and use of his or her property are central to an HOA members fundamental interest. Thus, members of homeowners’ associations should familiarize themselves with the applicable bylaws and rules of the community so that the processes and procedures are known and understood. This knowledge will prepare members to vote on important issues with a clear understanding of the processes involved.
An elected HOA board is tasked with general administration and operation of the association, including enforcement of covenants, restrictions, and rules. When running smoothly, a board serves a valuable purpose in the community, helping to maintain an orderly, peaceful neighborhood. Unfortunately, though, friction between an HOA board and individual members, or even among board members, is not uncommon. And the resulting conflict can lead to litigation and other unpleasantness.
Zoning ordinances and HOA covenants often disallow commercial uses of properties in residential areas. A group home that accepts payments for services provided at the home is almost certainly engaging in commercial activity. But, although the plain language of an ordinance or covenant might appear to prohibit such a group home, federal law forbids state and local governments or HOAs from impeding certain protected uses (more on that later). Importantly, there are different categories of group homes, and the laws protecting each home depend in large part on what kind of home is involved.
While generally homeowners’ associations are provided for the common good of its residents, what happens when it becomes necessary to dissolve an HOA? There are many reasons that it may become necessary to dissolve a homeowners’ association. They could be financial or legal or a combination of the two. This article is designed to provide general guidance as to what processes are required in order to legally dissolve a homeowners’ association in the unfortunate event that such action becomes necessary.
The neatest method of adopting a smoking restriction in an HOA community is to include the smoking policy in the declaration when the association is initially formed. For already-existing associations, though, a new smoking rule will require an amendment to the HOA’s declaration. Typically, this involves approval by member vote, followed by recording of the amended declaration in the county land records. Amendment can require only a simple majority, a super-majority, or even unanimous approval of members – depending on the declaration and state law.
Homeowner’s Associations come with many interesting and different processes for most first time members of an HOA community. An important process members of homeowners’ associations have to deal with is the election of a Board of Directors which can be a member’s first exposure to corporate law. This article is designed to give a general background on how board members in a homeowners’ association are elected and what processes are in place to protect homeowners from problematic board members.
The homeowners’ association board of directors is the governing body of your community, and can have a significant impact on the lives of those who live there. The board of a homeowners’ association is required to hold meetings to conduct the business of the association; the type and frequency of these meetings can vary, and can be confusing. But, members of the association are encouraged to attend most meetings, and to participate when permitted. This article will help you better understand HOA meetings. First, it’s important to know that HOAs are governed by the law of the state in which they sit.
The installation of solar panels often leads to discussions about how the solar panels change the look and character of the neighborhood or that they may cause a decrease in property values for the neighborhood. The legal back drop that exists also involves a careful balancing of a homeowner’s right to use solar energy and a community’s right to control the aesthetics of a neighborhood. The question then becomes who can decide whether a homeowner can install solar panels in an HOA Community and if so, what are the other enforceable rules that might govern the installation and maintenance of such solar panels.
As part of the Fair Housing Act, Congress granted the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the authority to adopt rules to meet the statute’s objectives. In October of 2016, the department completed the formal rulemaking process and published the final rules that are now law. One of the new rules codified by HUD can potentially significantly affect the number of harassment claims an HOA will face. Today we will focus on what might be the most significant new rule: liability for discriminatory housing practices, found at 24 C.F.R. §100.7(a)(1)(iii).
Getting in on the ground floor of a new master-planned community is very exciting. If you are fortunate enough to be in such a scenario, you likely now have a budding interest in how the developer of the HOA community will eventually transfer power to the homeowners. In a nascent HOA community, a new homeowner has the option to sit back and permit the developer to govern the community until he sees fit. Yet, this can be risky and may cost you money/time in the long run if there are any complications in the completion of the work.
We all have what we like to think is a general understanding of the basic elements of Homeowners’ Association—there is a president, a board, and a set of rules that these nice people are entrusted to enforce. And the cursory understanding of these elements of an association are perfectly fine, until something happens. Upon the formation of a dispute between a homeowner and a homeowner's association, these seemingly innocuous details will suddenly be anything but.
This article will help elucidate what the law requires of an association Board with respect to its obligations toward homeowners. There are three broad categories of fiduciary duties of association Boards that we will discuss: the duty of care, the duty of reasonable inquiry, and the duty of good faith. With each topic, we will first explain general concepts then delve into examples for clarification. These rights for homeowners derive from old English common law (meaning that this law has grown over time through court decisions), but today almost every state has codified these rights into state statutes.