What are the Laws that Govern Georgia Homeowners Associations, Condominiums, Cooperatives, and Non-Profit Corporations?

In addition to laws specifically applicable to condominiums and HOA’s, Georgia associations are impacted by several federal laws and other generally applicable state statutes - depending, in part, on how the association is structured.  The federal and Georgia statutes likely to affect Georgia HOAs, condo associations, cooperatives, and non-profits include:

HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS

Georgia Property Owners’ Association Act (GPOAA), O.C.G.A. §44-3-220, et. seq.:  the GPOAA, which governs formation, management, powers, and operation of applicable associations, is Georgia’s law specifically applying to homeowners associations.  Importantly, associations in Georgia can be organized under the GPOAA or based on common law principles, in which case the statute is inapplicable.  Statutory associations are commonly referred to in Georgia as “POA’s,” and common law associations as “HOA’s,” though GPOAA associations are also sometimes called HOAs.  An association “opts in” to the GPOAA by recording a declaration (or amending an existing declaration) to expressly elect to be governed by the GPOAA.  O.C.G.A. §44-3-222. 

While not as detailed as many state HOA statutes, the GPOAA provides more legal structure than common-law associations with regard to association powers and also streamlines the lien-filing process.  A non-GPOAA association’s declaration expires by law twenty years after recording unless affirmatively renewed, while a statutory association continues automatically unless dissolved.  O.C.G.A. §44-5-60.

The Georgia Property Owners’ Association Act (Title 44, Chapter 3, Article 6) is broken down into 17 code sections (220 to 235). The table below includes the official code sections and titles as listed in the Official Code of Georgia. The sole purpose of this table is to help the public locate the laws that govern condominium associations and its members in the state of Georgia, and not intended to replace or provide legal advice.

Article 6 - Property Owners' Associations

Section Name Section Number
Short Title 44-3-220
Definitions 44-3-221
Creation of property owners' development; affirmative election to be governed by article 44-3-222
Compliance with provisions of instrument and with rules and regulations; penalties for noncompliance 44-3-223
Voting at association meetings 44-3-224
Assessment of expenses; exemption from liability; liability for unpaid assessments 44-3-225
Amendment of instrument; presumption of validity in court action 44-3-226
Incorporation as prerequisite to submission to article; requirements as to corporate documents; board of directors 44-3-227
Presence of quorums at meetings 44-3-228
Persons deemed to be "lot owner." 44-3-229
Frequency of meetings; notice 44-3-230
Powers and duties of associations; legal actions against agent or employee of association 44-3-231
Assessments against lot owners as constituting lien in favor of association; additional charges against lot owners; procedure for foreclosing lien; obligation to provide statement of amounts due 44-3-232
Right of and procedure for certain property owners to take control of association when declarant fails to meet certain obligations 44-3-232.1
Liberal construction of article; substantial compliance; curing of defects by amendment 44-3-233
Application of article 44-3-234
Applicability of article 44-3-235

CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATIONS

Georgia Condominium Act, O.C.G.A. §44-3-70, et. seq.:  The Georgia Condominium Act is similar to the GPOAA, except that it applies to condo associations rather than homeowners associations.  The principles relating to formation, management, powers, and operation, as set forth in the Condominium Act, are often identical to the analogous principles of the GPOAA.  The duties are also similar, though, in some cases, condo associations have greater disclosure requirements.

The Georgia Condominium Act (Title 44, Chapter 3, Article 3) is broken down into 49 code sections (70 to 117). The table below includes the official code sections and titles as listed in the Official Code of Georgia. The sole purpose of this table is to help the public locate the laws that govern condominium associations and its members in the state of Georgia, and not intended to replace or provide legal advice.

Article 3 - Georgia Condominium Act

Section Name Section Number
Short Title 44-3-70
Definitions 44-3-71
Creation of condominium 44-3-72
Sufficiency of descriptions of condominium units; description of undivided interest in common elements 44-3-73
Recording condominium instruments, plats, plans, and encumbrances 44-3-74
Construction and validity of condominium instruments; conflicts and inconsistencies; severability 44-3-75
Compliance with condominium instruments, rules, and regulations; means of enforcement 44-3-76
Contents of declaration 44-3-77
Allocation -- Interests in common elements 44-3-78
Allocation -- Votes in association; how votes cast; majority vote requirements 44-3-79
Allocation -- Liability for common expenses; how assessments made 44-3-80
Reallocation of interests in common elements, votes, and liability for common expenses 44-3-81
Assignments and reassignments of limited common elements 44-3-82
Recording of plats and plans; contents; completion of structural improvements; certification by registered architect or engineer 44-3-83
Use of previously recorded plans in lieu of new plans 44-3-84
Liability for failure to follow plats or plans; easements; liability for damage 44-3-85
Leasehold condominiums; lessor's rights and powers; owner's rights and powers; liens; performance of covenants 44-3-86
Conversion condominiums; notice; offer to convey; time periods; rights of tenant 44-3-87
Conversion of convertible spaces; amendment to declaration effecting conversion; reallocation of sums assessed prior to conversion; treatment of convertible space not converted 44-3-88
Expansion of condominium; amendment to declaration; expansion of condominium after declarant's right to expand has expired 44-3-89
Alterations within units; combining two or more units 44-3-90
Relocation of boundaries between units; application for relocation; amendment to declaration; plans and plats; recording 44-3-91
Subdivision of units; application for subdivision; amendment to declaration; plans and plats; recordation 44-3-92
Amendment of condominium instruments 44-3-93
Damage or destruction of units; restoration; vote not to restore; allocation of insurance deductible 44-3-94
Effect of mortgages and liens; foreclosure; release 44-3-95
Separate titles and taxation 44-3-96
Eminent domain; compensation; reallocation of interests; court determination; amendment to declaration 44-3-97
Termination of condominium; creation of tenancy in common; distribution of assets; transfer of mortgages and liens 44-3-98
Withdrawal of submitted property; reallocation to remaining units of undivided interest in common elements; contents of amendment; transfer of mortgages and liens 44-3-99
Incorporation of association; name; articles and bylaws; membership; organization 44-3-100
Control of association by declarant; surrender of control to unit owners; liability for books and records; cancellation of leases and contracts 44-3-101
Meetings of the association; notice; reports 44-3-102
Quorums at meetings of association or board 44-3-103
Directors and officers; eligibility 44-3-104
Powers and duties as to upkeep of the condominium; access; liability for damage 44-3-105
Powers and responsibilities of association; tort actions 44-3-106
Insurance coverage 44-3-107
Common profits; application to expenses; surplus 44-3-108
Lien for assessments; personal obligation of unit owner; notice and foreclosure; lapse; right to statement of assessments; effect of failure to furnish statement 44-3-109
Restraints on alienation and rights of first refusal; statement of waiver or failure to exercise rights or restraints; effect of failure to furnish statement 44-3-110
Sales of residential condominium units for residential occupancy; information required to be furnished by seller; buyer's right to void contract; limitations period; attorney's fees; penalty for willful violation 44-3-111
Escrow of deposits or other payments made prior to closing 44-3-112
Applicability of this article; effect on existing condominiums 44-3-113
Effect of article upon land use, zoning, building, and subdivision laws; effect of Code Section 44-3-92; applicability of land use and zoning ordinances or laws to expandable condominium 44-3-114
Construction of this article; substantial compliance; procedure for curing defects in recorded instruments 44-3-115
Limitations in certain restrictive covenants inapplicable 44-3-116
Application to subcondominiums; creation of subcondominium; subassociation; insurance; effect of certain liens; eminent domain; description of certain units; assessments 44-3-117

NONPROFIT CORPORATIONS

Georgia Nonprofit Corporation Code, O.C.G.A. §14-3-101, et. seq.  Associations in Georgia must be organized as either non-profit or for-profit corporations prior to recording a declaration.  If an association is a non-profit, as is the case with most Georgia associations, it will be governed by the Georgia Nonprofit Corporation Code, specifically with regard to corporate structure and procedure.  For-profit associations are likewise governed by the Georgia Business Corporation Code, O.C.G.A. §14-2-101, et. seq.

COOPERATIVES

Cooperatives:  Georgia’s statutes only specifically address cooperatives relating to electric, telephone, and certain agricultural activities.  Under the appropriate circumstances, a group wishing to own property as a co-op in Georgia can organize as an LLC or nonprofit corporation and tailor its governing documents to accomplish most of the same goals of a typical co-op in other states.  The corporate entity registered with the Secretary of State owns title to any property, and the individuals own shares or membership interests in the corporation or LLC, depending on how it’s organized.


FEDERAL LAWS

Federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. §3601, et. seq.:  The FHA was enacted to prevent housing discrimination based on “protected classes,” including race, color, religion, sex, familial status, and national origin.  Disability was added as a “protected class” by a later amendment.  42 U.S.C. §3604.  Under the FHA, an association can incur legal liability for taking an adverse action affecting a person’s right to buy, rent, or enjoy the use of real estate based upon that individual’s membership in a protected class.  An adverse action can be express discrimination, such as exclusionary covenants preventing sales or leases to anyone within a protected class, or actions which might not include discrimination on the surface, but which result in a “disparate impact” on a protected group.  Georgia’s Fair Housing Law, O.C.G.A. §8-3-200, et. seq., applies the protections provided under the FHA at the state level.  The state law is administered by the Fair Housing Division of the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity. More about the Fair Housing Act—>

Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. §1692, et seq.:  The FDCPA regulates the conduct of “debt collectors” collecting debts owed by “consumers” to third parties.  HOA fees are considered “debts” under the FDCPA, and homeowners are protected “consumers.”  Ladick v. Van Gemert, 146 F. 3d 1205 (10th Cir.1998); Thies v. Law Offices of William A. Wyman, 969 F. Supp. 604 (S.D. Cal. 1997).  An HOA collecting its own debts does not qualify as a “debt collector” and is therefore not regulated by the FDCPA.  However, a third party – such as a collection agency, law firm, or property management company – attempting to collect fees owed to an association may qualify as a “debt collector” under the FDCPA.  Georgia’s Industrial Loan Act, O.C.G.A. §7-3-1, et. seq., regulates debt collection at the state level but only applies to loans of $3,000 or less and is therefore not typically applicable to homeowners associations. Read more about the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act—>


Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3631:  The ADA prohibits discrimination against disabled persons in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to government programs and services.  An association with common elements accessible to the general public or that acts as an employer must ensure that its activities do not result in discrimination against disabled persons and must make “reasonable accommodations” necessary to allow individuals with disabilities access to facilities and/or employment. More about the Americans with Disabilities Act—>

More federal laws applicable to Associations

 

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