Each of our attorneys is thoroughly versed in the language of association governing documents: the declaration and the bylaws, which may also go by other terms, such as the constitution, deed or plat restrictions, and code of regulations. As no two governing documents are the same, we work with boards to help them understand, interpret, and enforce specific provisions. We advise boards on the benefits of amending document provisions that are antiquated, illegal, or those that no longer serve the association’s needs or interests.
Our firm is uniquely capable of handling all aspects of the amendment process, including reviewing the documents and determining the need for amendments, interpreting and explaining the voting requirements to ensure integrity of the voting process is maintained, drafting amendment language and ownership consent ballot forms, and preparing the final amendment document that is filed with the county.
As communities age, provisions in the declaration and bylaws may no longer reflect today’s operations or owners’ preferences. The most comprehensive approach for providing the association with governing documents that will best serve the association is a complete document rewrite. After a rewrite, the documents will be customized to the particular needs and living styles of owners and will reflect updates in the law. Our attorneys are highly experienced in drafting new governing documents for association boards to present to their ownership for a vote.
Typical amendments that our attorneys draft include:
Animal restrictions, including restricting vicious breeds, defining the types of permitting pets, and imposing limits on number of pets per home.
Architectural control restrictions to preserve and protect the visible aesthetics of the community.
Indemnification to provide volunteer board members and committee members with reasonable protection from personal liability while serving on the board or on a committee.
Board number and terms, including the staggering of board terms so that the association has the ability to maintain continuity of the persons willing to serve on the board, and to benefit from keeping experienced board members who have obtained the historical, working knowledge of the community’s operations.
Borrowing to permit the association to obtain a loan and adding specific authority to use the assessments as collateral.
Bylaws recording as mandated by the Ohio Planned Community Act governing homeowner associations and planned unit developments in Ohio.
Costs of collection and enforcement to hold owners who do not pay on time or who violate the rules responsible for the costs the Association incurs.
Charging stations for electric vehicles to govern their installation and use.
Insurance requirements, including
- Property insurance requirements
- Liability for drywall and other interior damage from outside water leaks
- Deductible requirements
- Claim filing rights to protect Association insurance premium rates
- Minimum liability insurance requirements
Leasing restrictions, including
- Restrictions on short-term rentals by imposing minimum lease term requirements
- Prohibiting leasing in accordance with Ohio law, with limited exceptions
Modifying/clarifying maintenance responsibilities, including for
- Insulation and drywall
- Water, gas, sewer, and other utility lines
- Dryer vents
- Exterior building and roofs (for cluster and townhome homeowner associations)
- Exterior lights, faucets, and electrical outlets
- Limited common element areas (patios, driveways, and balconies)
Motor vehicle restrictions, including limits on types of vehicles allowed in the community
Ohio Condominium Act compliance for HB135 that was enacted in 2004, and SB61 that was enacted in 2022
Sexual predator restrictions
Social activities, permitting the Board to expend association funds on social events for the community
Solar energy collection devices, either prohibiting solar energy collection devices (i.e. solar panels or solar shingles) or allowing subject to additional restrictions
Technology amendments, including providing the association authority to send notices electronically, allowing owners to vote outside a meeting by mail-in or electronic voting technology, and conducting virtual association meetings
This is list not all inclusive; many association documents need or require specific amendments that other association documents do not need. Boards should not hesitate to present their association’s amendment proposals for consideration to our attorneys.
Some associations have a long history of obtaining ownership approval for many amendments over the years. The document history for the community will show that each of the amendments are reflected by separate, individual amendment filings that are filed with the County. Over time it can be difficult to keep track of each filing and understand how each amendment filing changes the original declaration and bylaws. Many boards and owners would prefer using a document that shows all those past amendment filings incorporated into a single document, so that the amendments and their impact on the association’s operations are easy to read and understand. Drafting a restatement (also referred to as a “retype”) for the association incorporates all past amendment filings into a single document. Our attorneys can draft a final restatement document, incorporating all past amendments, so board members and owners will have an updated declaration and bylaws that include all current provisions that govern the community.