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How important are state statutes and case decisions in governing your HOA?

Originally posted 2011-02-08 09:18:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We discussed Governing Documents for homeowners associations and Governing Documents for condominium associations. These governing documents for your community association must be read in conjunction with certain state and federal laws. In this article, we will discuss those relevant laws that must be considered by your HOA.

Obviously, your association is governed by Virginia laws and federal laws.  In particular, you should be familiar with the following:

First, Property Owners Associations (commonly known as Homeowners Associations) are governed by the following Virginia statutes:

Next, Condominium Associations (commonly known as Unit Owners Associations) are governed by these Virginia statutes:

Sometimes we may be concerned that your governing documents conflict with an applicable Virginia statute.  In such a situation, the relevant Virginia statute will prevail over your the terms of your governing documents. Therefore, it is important that your experienced HOA attorney reviews with you your governing documents and the relevant statutes to determine whether your documents do actually conflict with the statute.  For example, portions of the Virginia Nonstock Corporation Act include language that prefaces the statute, such as, “…[u]nless the articles of incorporation or bylaws provide otherwise,….”  In those instances the provision found in your articles of incorporation or bylaws would control even if it conflicted with the balance of the statute.

Your analysis of your governing documents does not stop with Virginia statutory law because judicial decisions impact your community. If your documents or a statute conflicts with a Virginia case decision on the particular issue, the case law will prevail over your governing documents. Although there are not many Virginia cases for community associations, your HOA attorney must be vigilant to keep you informed of possible changes in the interpretation of your governing documents.

In conclusion, the following list provides the hierarchy of authority for governing your community association:

  1. Case Law and Statutes;
  2. Declaration and Plats;
  3. Articles of Incorporation;
  4. Bylaws;
  5. Rules and Regulations;
  6. Resolutions

When questions arise, ask your experienced HOA attorney to provide you with support and guidance.


Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law

Williamsburg, Virginia

Susan Tarley

Susan Tarley

Susan chairs the firm's common interest community (HOAs and Condos) practice area. She was admitted into the College of Community Association Attorneys (“CCAL”). Susan is one of fewer than 150 attorneys nationwide to be admitted to CCAL, for distinguishing herself through contributions to the evolution or practice of community association law.

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Filed under: Common Interest Community, HOA, HOA litigation, Susan B. Tarley, Unit Owners Association by Susan Tarley

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