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Property Owners' Associations

This legal research guide provides information on homeowners associations in Texas, including links to relevant statutes, practice aids, and information in “plain English.”

Bylaws and Records


Bylaws are an extremely important document for a property owners' association. The bylaws set forth in writing what a property owners' association can do and how they must do it. In many cases, they will grant powers and rights to the association that are not automatically granted by Texas law. Bylaws will often provide rules and procedures for things like board meetings, board elections, changing neighborhood restrictions, fees and assessments, and ways that the association can enforce their rules.

The bylaws are the first place you should turn when you have questions about how your property owners' association is run.

Where Can I Read the Bylaws?

Under Texas law, your property owner's association must provide you with access to the books and records of the association. You can either request to inspect the records in person or you can request copies of specific documents. They can charge you for these copies if they have created a records production and copying policy that details the charges you will incur in advance.

To request access to records, you must submit a request in writing by certified mail. The property owners' association must respond within 10 business days.

Texas law also requires that all dedicatory instruments be recorded with the real property records of the county clerk in all counties where the POA is located. Here, "dedicatory instruments" is defined as "means each document governing the establishment, maintenance, or operation of a residential subdivision, planned unit development, condominium or townhouse regime, or any similar planned development" (Texas Property Code Section 202.001(1)).

If your property owners' association has a publicly accessible website, Texas law requires that all dedicatory instruments be posted there. The law defines "dedicatory instruments" as "each governing instrument covering the establishment, maintenance, and operation of a residential subdivision" (Texas Property Code Section 209.002(4)).

How Can I Change the Bylaws?

In general, the bylaws themselves will provide the process for amending the bylaws.

However, Section 209.0041 of the Texas Property Code places some limits on the amendment process of "dedicatory instruments," which is a term defined by Section 209.002 to include the bylaws. This section states that a vote to amend a dedicatory instrument cannot require the approval of more than 67% of the lots. If the bylaws don't specify how many votes are required, the amendment may pass with 67% of the votes allotted to lot owners.

What Records Does an HOA Have to Keep?

Texas law requires a property owners' association that consists of at least 14 lots to adopt and follow a document retention policy. This law provides minimum lengths of time that the document retention policy should require specific types of records to be kept for. According to Section 209.005(m) of the Texas Property Code, they are:

Permanently

7 years

5 years

4 years after expiration