Understanding the Differences Between CC&Rs, Bylaws and Rules & Regulations

Your homeowners association has three types of governing documents: Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (called “CC&Rs”), Rules & Regulations, and Bylaws. Frequently, the function of these documents or the role the property management company plays in implementing them can be confusing.

With this article, you will learn the purpose of each document and how you can work with your management company to develop guidelines that work best for your community.

Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs)

This is a legally binding document that is officially recorded and filed with your state. Your CC&Rs cover the rights and obligations of the homeowners association to its members and vice versa. CC&Rs often cover legal issues, such as:

  • Property-use restrictions
  • Clearly defined maintenance obligations for the HOA and individual members
  • Mechanisms for rule enforcement and dispute resolution
  • Lender protection provisions
  • Assessment obligations
  • Insurance obligations

Because this record is kept on file with the state, it can be difficult to amend and requires a vote by the membership to make any changes.


If CC&Rs cover the “what” of the HOA, the bylaws cover the “how.” Your community’s bylaws establish the structure of day-to-day governance of your homeowners association. This includes things like:

  • Frequency of HOA board elections
  • Process for nominating and electing new board members
  • Number of members that serve at one time
  • Length of board member service terms
  • Meeting frequency and quorum requirements
  • Duties and responsibilities of board members

Like CC&Rs, Bylaws are difficult to change, as they too require a vote by the membership to amend.

Rules & Regulations

Your community’s Rules & Regulations are a catchall for the things that aren’t covered in the Bylaws or CC&Rs. These are often the rules that might need revising over time due to changes in the community. For example, an HOA might have a rule that states that no children are allowed in the community pool before noon. This rule would not be a part of the community’s CC&Rs because it might need to change seasonally, or as more children move into the community.

Rules & Regulations can be changed by an HOA board vote with review by the members of the community. Traditionally, the Board will adopt a rule then send a notice to the community members who will have 30 days to review it. After 30 days, the board will review the comments and concerns of members, considering the members’ feedback in the final decision.

Every Restriction Can Be Changed

CC&Rs, Rules & Regulations, and Bylaws are usually determined when a developer incorporates the community. The developer will try to anticipate the type of community or commercial property space they are creating, but the needs of a community often aren’t fully clear until residents move in.

Every rule, regulation, covenant, condition and bylaw can be changed–it’s simply a matter of which process is required to make the change. CC&R changes require re-filing with the state, so changes should be made sparingly and with the help of an experienced attorney. Meanwhile, Rules & Regulations are in effect at the community level and simply require a board vote with community member review. 

The Role of Your Property Management Company

Your residential or commercial property management company is an agent of your homeowners association corporation, whose primary role is to increase your property value and facilitate the enjoyment of your community. Your property management company has no say in the development of your CC&Rs, Rules & Regulations or Bylaws; they simply act to implement the guidelines set forth by your board.

Your property management company will also provide advice and guidance as you develop your community’s guidelines to ensure that you adhere to state and local laws. They should provide practical advice to ensure your board is making the decisions that best protect and enhance your community.

Your management company and property manager can show you the risks and rewards of changing your CC&Rs, Rules & Regulations or Bylaws and provide a useful framework to develop your community in a way that serves residents today and long into the future.

At Keystone Pacific, we are dedicated to providing the highest level of service to the communities and HOAs we manage. If you are interested in having Keystone Pacific manage your HOA, contact us today for a proposal

Posted by on | Categories: Community Management, HOA Rules.

33 thoughts on “Understanding the Differences Between CC&Rs, Bylaws and Rules & Regulations

  1. Jerry

    Our Board has decided that they can take away land owners right to vote even thought he CC&R’s and By Laws do not specifically say this. The bylaws say if a person does not pay road fees they can be punished and this to me would mean in the way of interest and penalties specific to the fees only. Taking away a land owners right to vote on issues relative to the association and changes seems above and beyond. Is it legal for the board to do this?

    1. kppm-admin

      Jerry – that’s a good question. Typically, your governing documents will specifically outline member discipline. We are not attornies, and cannot offer an opinion on how best to interpret your documents, but an HOA attorney would be able to assist you.

  2. KJ

    We had a case where we only had one person running for 2 seats so the board decided to not have the annual meeting or election. I missed the board meeting and brought up that we allow floor nominations so we need to have a meeting. Our President and Property manager tried everything to cancel election . So we rescheduled meeting but we still have proxies out for the meeting scheduled that didn’t meet quorums rules. so now they want to have a nominating committee and restart over. My question what about the proxies that were sent in previously.

  3. Mary Ann Kelly

    Can a developer arbitrarily change the rules he posed to buyers? Like site built homes only? There are a few lots that haven’t been sold and the developer is now allowing manufactured homes on these lots. This will devalue the site built homes and break the rules he set for previous buyers. Can he legally do this?

    1. kppm-admin

      Hello Mary Ann, and thank you for your question! We are not attorneys, so we hesitate to provide legal advice. However, the process for changing a California association’s governing documents is very clearly defined by state Civil Code. There are several variables – things such as whether this manufactured home rule is located in the Rules & Regulations or the CC&Rs, whether the rule change had been mailed out to the membership, and other things of this nature – which may impact whether this change is allowable. Information on updating governing documents can be found here. If your community is located in California, it may be a good idea to bring this up for discussion at your next Board Meeting.

  4. Melissa

    What is stronger. Bylaws or laws? If bylaws weren’t stronger what is the purpose of having them?

  5. Peggy Smith

    Must every amenity (clubhouse, pool, tennis court, guard station) be mentioned in the CC&Rs so that rules and Rules & Regulations can be established to regulate their use?

  6. Ethan

    Is it legal for HOA Board to create Rules and Regulations that prevent member of community in a good standing to be elected to HOA Board if this person has any disputes with Board? I caught President of the Board when he was violating CC&R and I was elected to the Board. Current property management company representative canceled results of elections and Rules and Regulations were created that prevent me to be elected because I have conflict with current Board. Some of the members of our community expressed disagreement about Rules but Board neglected our concerns and refused to remove item from Rules and Regulations forbidding member of community in good standing but in Dispute with current Board to elected to Board.

  7. Roberta

    Where you have an elected Board for an HOA and they have contracted a General Manager to be in charge, is the GM bound by the same rules regarding no comments for or against potential board members running in an election.

  8. Roberta

    When you have an elected Board for a HOA and they elect an General Manager to run things, is the GM bound by the same rules for not commenting for or against a potential board member running in an election?

    1. kppm-admin

      Hello Roberta, and thank you for your comment. The short answer is: yes. Since a General Manager would work at the direction of the Board, he or she should not be commenting on candidates. There can be exceptions, of course, but as a general rule, the GM’s influence on the community should be restricted to managing the day-to-day operations and maintenance responsibilities. This is why it is best to hire a GM that isn’t a resident of the community, ensuring they remain impartial.

  9. John Logan

    Would it be common in the case of a natural disaster (Hurricane Harvey) that the HOA would take over all restoration using a contractor of their choosing? We were allowed to use our own contractor but they would be considered a sub-contractor to the main contractor that was chosen by the HOA. This is a condo community with separated single family homes.

    1. kppm-admin

      Hi John, thank you for reaching out to us. With regard to the situation in Houston, we, unfortunately, cannot offer anything too specific since we are based out of California. However, we can recommend that you consult with the Association’s legal counsel, review your community’s governing documents regarding responsibilities, and see if there are any alternatives. Without knowing the laws and rules governing your community, we can’t say for sure one way or another.

  10. gayle

    can an HOA have rules&regs for the city street that are more strict than city laws for the city streets. the city allows parking of an RV for 48 hours but our HOA says we have to get their permission to park it and can only park on street 4 times a year

    1. kppm-admin

      Hello Gayle, thank you for your question. In California, yes this is true. As long as the association’s rules are not contradicting city, state, or federal laws, the rule is valid. The reason HOAs can create more stringent rules is that the community is a common interest development, or CID. As the name suggests, the association is responsible for protecting the interests of its residents. This is accomplished by establishing rules for the community. Different communities have different needs, and so may have more or less strict rules. Regardless, rules like parking restrictions can be changed by following the process outlined in your governing documents. If you think your community would benefit from a rule change, the first step is always to attend the next Board Meeting and bring up your idea.

  11. Julie Larson

    Very informative article!
    When the CC&Rs have been updated (new restrictions or existing restrictions changed) do they also need to be recorded with the State for the public?

  12. Pat

    Can an POA put a restriction on your property for cutting trees but do it through the ACC Guidelines? Isn’t this a restriction on what I can do on my property? We do not have this in our CCR’s.

  13. Pat

    When the board tells the property owner they can’t cut trees on their property during certain months….isn’t that a restriction? This is not in our CCR’s and the board just passed a rule telling owners that they can only cut trees on their properties during certain times of the years. We are not in a ETJ or in a city….rural area.

  14. Carole

    In their CC&R’s, from 1994, it states only certain animals may be kept in the unit. After 2001, the 18 page Rules & Regulations Handbook, dated 2017 were updated to state a no dog policy, Does that mean that the no dog policy is no longer valid?

    1. kppm-admin

      Hello Carole, thank you for your question! Without reading your governing documents, it is difficult to answer this question. In California, the CC&Rs typically cannot be contradicted by the Rules & Regulations. This may be different for your community, depending on the wording of each document. You may need to contact your Community Manager or seek advice from legal counsel in order to determine what is allowed in this case.

    1. kppm-admin

      Hello Bella, thank you for your question! In short, yes there are circumstances in which an association can place a lien on a home and take ownership of it, but this happens by being delinquent on assessments, not for violating an operating rule. Each association has a delinquency policy that you can request from your management company that outlines the specific steps that will take place during the collection process.

  15. shawna sandau

    can the hoa tow your car without proper notice? what is the proper procedure for towing? this is the second time my car was towed. they said i was in violation because i was parked in guest parking. 1 month prior they towed my friends car and said it was permitted parking. i am now with out my car i have 3 kids 2 witch are in school and an infant. please help

  16. Nancy Smith

    I relanscaped my front lawn to drought tolerant plants but now received a letter stating I must restore 75% of my lawn. Several houses in this association have done the same without asking permission and did not receive same notice. Can an association be arbitrary in what they approve?

    1. kppm-admin

      Hello Nancy, thank you for your question. The answer is more complex than you might expect. A California association’s governing documents are designed to apply uniformly across the membership. In addition, violation notices and the violation process are private matters that legally cannot be disclosed. So this may create the appearance of unfair enforcement if you receive a violation notice for something that your neighbor has also done. If you feel the association really is selectively enforcing the rule, then your best course of action is to request time to address your violation notice with the Board at their next Executive Session.

  17. Sharyn Mooney

    I sit on an HOA board. Our CCNRS state that we will pay for repair of a slab leak in the floor. The board overrode the CCNRS Without a community vote to replace carpet where the contractor cut through it. The board agreed to pay $1700 for these repairs. 1) I believe we were not legally responsible for the carpet
    2) didn’t the board act illegally by overriding the CCNRS without a community vote? Their answer is that it was “ethically and morally the right thing to do. I believe this has set a precedent that could come back and bite us in the future. Why have CCNRS

  18. Joyce Mitchell

    CC&Rs vs. By Laws, and Noise Restrictions (CA condo Association)

    We are having a disagreement among our Board and Management. We currently have a Noise Restriction between 10 pm and 10 am. This has existed in the Rules since before I purchased in 1991. It was included in an Addenda to the By Laws and signed by 6 of the 8 owners in 1998, along with clarification on parking restrictions, instituting fines, and other items. Some owners wish to change the noise restriction to an earlier hour. I am on the current three member Board. Some of the Board and Management say that these amendments were incorrectly inserted into the By Laws, that they belong in the CC&Rs, and as such we really have no 10 pm to 10 am noise restriction. I say that the By Laws were amended correctly, that we do have this noise restriction and that to change it we must amend the By Laws. I also have explained that if they amend the CC&Rs to include a specific Noise Restriction with different hours, than the By Laws and CC&Rs will be in direct conflict. Would love to get an opinion on this.

    1. kppm-admin

      Hello Joyce, great question! The answer lies in the difference between the CC&Rs and the Bylaws. The CC&Rs and the Rules & Regulations combine to create the actual rules governing your community. Bylaws relate to the way a community operates. For example, a question about what types of fencing are permitted would be answered in the CC&Rs or the Rules & Regulations. A question about how many Board Members must be present at a meeting would be answered in the Bylaws. So it seems that the question about quiet hours should be within the CC&Rs or Rules & Regulations, perhaps both.

      If your CC&Rs do not make any mention of quiet hours and if your CC&Rs grant the Board of Directors permission to create a set of Rules & Regulations, then you can go ahead and add the quiet hours to the Rules & Regulations in accordance with State Code. As always, we recommend consulting legal counsel on this process. Keystone Pacific is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion.

  19. Rob

    Our architectural committee for our condo complex is developing guidelines for air conditioners. Our CC&R’s say no air conditioning equipment in windows without board approval. The portable ac unit in question has a window vent hose kit required to be installed in the window. Some windows are out of public view while others with casement style windows (cranks) can’t adapt to the kit.
    My argument is that the guideline has to be the same for everyone. If certain units can’t adapt to the window kit, is it logical to say that no units are allowed to install the kit keeping it consistent for all? Litigation/discrimination??
    We found another choice in a portable evaporator “swamp cooler” that requires no vent hose that everyone can use.

    1. kppm-admin

      Hello Rob, thanks for your question! Based on the information you provided, your Board can certainly create guidelines for A/C units. Considering the differences in window types and visibility to the public, the Board will likely need to include within the guidelines a definition of approved window types and whether or not parts of the A/C system are allowed to be visible from the common area. This would allow homeowners to modify their windows to accommodate the A/C system if necessary. You are correct that whatever the regulation is, it is best to keep it consistent across the community. Finally, “swamp coolers” likely wouldn’t be part of your community’s governing documents as they are fully contained within the home and are therefore not part of the association’s jurisdiction.

  20. Dave O'Bryan

    If the covenants have a different late charge penalty for membership dues than the Bylaws, which should prevail? Our Bylaws were written later than the Covenants.


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