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What are Condominium Instruments?

In our last blog we discussed Governing Documents for homeowners associations. Condominium communities also have governing documents. However, the terminology we use to refer to these documents is “Condominium Instruments. “

What comprises the Condominium Instruments?

In Virginia, the term “Condominium Instruments” is defined in the Virginia Condominium Act and includes the (i) Declaration, (ii) Bylaws, and (iii) Plats and Plans that are recorded to establish a condominium. Any exhibit, schedule, or certification that accompanies any of those documents is considered an integral part of the Condominium Instruments. In addition, any amendment to or certification of the declaration, bylaws or plats and plans is part of the Condominium Instruments, provided that it was made in accordance with the Virginia Condominium Act.

The Declaration for a condominium is the document that creates the condominium.  The Declaration identifies the submitted land and any additional land that may be added to the condominium community.  It addresses the rights of the declarant in developing the community; identifies the boundaries of each unit; identifies the common elements; addresses each unit owner’s interest in the common elements; and specifies the improvements and the number of units that will be constructed that will be completed by the declarant.

The Bylaws for a condominium are also a recorded document.  The Bylaws provide for the self-government of the unit owners association.  The Bylaws address the election of directors, director and unit owner meetings, maintenance responsibilities, assessments and insurance requirements.

You will note that we have not addressed Articles of Incorporation yet.  Unit owners associations are not required to be incorporated. If an association is not incorporated, the Bylaws will address how the unit owners elect an executive organ.  If the association is incorporated, it will have Articles of Incorporation to establish the nonstock corporation that are filed with the State Corporation Commission.

Plats and plans are recorded with the Declaration.  The plats will show the boundary lines of the submitted land and any additional land.  The plats are required to include the location and dimensions of any existing improvements, the intended location and dimensions of any contemplated improvements and the location and dimensions of all easements.

Rules and Regulations and Resolutions are not included in the definition of Condominium Instruments.  However, they are legal documents of the condominium and create additional governance for the community. These documents establish rules and procedures for the association and its unit owners. The Board of Directors is typically empowered to adopt rules and regulations. The rules and regulations govern the use of common elements, pools, clubhouses and other amenities or services provided by the unit owners association.  They are used to address holiday decorations, permissible window treatments, pets, parking and safety rules.

Resolutions are used to address policies or to address a problem encountered by the unit owners association.  The issue being addressed must be within the rule-making authority of the board.  You may be familiar with your community’s policy for collecting assessment or its policy addressing rules enforcement.

To effectively manage your unit owners association, you must be familiar with your Condominium Instruments. Contact your experienced homeowners association attorney to help train your new board members on their responsibilities as community leaders in your condominium.

Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law

Williamsburg, Virginia

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John Tarley

John is the firm's managing partner and chairs the firm's small business, zoning, and litigation practice areas.

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