HIERARCHY OF DOCUMENTS FOR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS
Statutes, Constitution, Case Law
Both Florida and Federal laws apply to community associations. Whenever any covenant, rule, obligation, or other agreement contained in an association’s documents contradict the law, the law always prevails.
Declaration, Covenants, CC&R’s
Known by many names, an association’s declaration is the document which creates the community association, sets forth most of the requirements for conduct of the association and its members, and dedicates the land which will form the community to the association. Often thought of as the constitution of the association, the declaration is recorded in the public records and forms a sort of “super contract” to which anyone who owns a unit, lot, or parcel in the association, whether at its inception or many years later, is bound. When in conflict, any
provision in the declaration is superior to, and should be followed instead of, any requirement set forth in any other document except Florida or Federal law.
Articles of Incorporation
The articles of incorporation are filed with the Secretary of State in Florida to form the corporate entity of the association. They usually contain descriptions of the purpose for which the association’s corporate entity is formed, which kinds of officers it will have, how many directors it may have, and so forth. When in conflict, the articles of incorporation are superior to, and should be followed instead of, the bylaws and the rules and regulations. However, the articles of incorporation are trumped by the declaration and Florida and Federal law.
The bylaws of an association typically describe how the day-to-day operation of an association’s business affairs should be handled. Topics normally include powers and duties of the members of the board of directors, procedures for conducting meetings and elections, quorum requirements, and so forth. When in conflict, the bylaws are only superior to the rules and regulations. All other documents and Florida and Federal law should be followed otherwise.
Rules and Regulations
Rules and regulations are typically resolutions adopted by the members of the board of directors. Their proper use is to expand upon and clarify existing restrictions set forth in one of the superior documents. For instance, the rules and regulations are typically where one would find guidelines on the frequency and number of documents which may be requested by members of an association from the official records. All other documents and Florida and Federal law trump the rules and regulation in the event of a conflict.