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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.”

What are HOA's governing documents?

Property owners' associations have certain documents that are essential to their operation. They define the governing rules and restrictions for the association and the homeowners. Collectively, these documents are called "dedicatory instruments" or "governing documents." The titles may differ, but most associations will have some documents that serve these important functions.

Articles of Incorporation. If the association is incorporated, this document establishes its status as a legal entity. The articles state the basic identifying information about the association and are filed with the Secretary of State. They may include information about the initial Board of Directors and some basic rules. This document is sometimes called "Certificate of Formation."

Bylaws. Bylaws define how the association is run and managed. They often contain the rules that govern meetings, voting, elections, Board of Directors, various committees, and keeping of records. Bylaws may also say how the bylaws can be amended. 

Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. This is the main document that defines the rights and responsibilities of the homeowners. Declaration will have the rules related to property use, upkeep and appearance, rule violations, fines and fees, and judicial enforcement. This document is also known as "Restrictions," "Restrictive Covenants," or "CC&Rs."

Rules and Regulations. If other governing documents allow, the Board of Directors can sometimes enact additional regulations to help implement the provisions in the Declaration. These rules are often known as "Association Rules," "Rules," or "Policies."

Understanding the Law

Which other records may be important?

Besides governing documents, there are other records that may be important when dealing with an HOA. 

Association's Records. These records are created by the association as part of its daily operations. It may include meeting minutes, financial records, voting records, contracts, legal documents, rule violations, employment records, administrative files, correspondence, and many others.   

Management Certificate. This document contains information about the HOA management. Certificates are filed in the county where the property is located and electronically in the Homeowners' Association Management Certificate Database. They often include contact information, mailing address, and website where governing documents can be found. Section 209.004 of the Texas Property Code has more information about management certificate filing requirements.

Resale Certificate. This document is usually prepared in anticipation of a property sale. It summarizes the association's financial status and lists any unpaid debts owed by the property owner. Information about resale certificates are listed in Sect. 207.003.

Subdivision Plat. This survey map shows land division into individual lots. It usually includes information about lot dimensions, boundary lines, nearby streets, open space and government-owned areas, and easements. Plats are recorded with the county's property records and can generally be accessed at the county clerk's office. 

Which records is an HOA required to keep?

Texas law requires a property owners' association composed of more than 14 lots to implement a records retention policy. A records retention policy identifies important records of the association and states how long they must be kept. Section 209.005(m) of the Texas Property Code establishes mandatory retention times for some of these records:

Texas Law

How can I access HOA records?

Association's website. If a property owners' association has 60 or more lots or is operated by a management company, Texas law requires dedicatory instruments to be posted online for all members. This law is in Section 207.006 of the Texas Property Code. Dedicatory instruments are defined in Sect. 209.002(4).  

County clerk's records. Sect. 202.006 requires all dedicatory instruments to be filed with the county's real property records. This must be done for each county where the association is located. Dedicatory instruments are defined in Sect. 202.001(1).

Secretary of State's records. If an association is a nonprofit corporation, the Business Organizations search will allow you to access the association's articles of incorporation and other documents related to its formation.

Upon written request. Sect. 209.005 requires most residential subdivisions to provide owners with access to the books and records of the association. An owner can either request to inspect the records in person or request copies of specific documents. The association can charge a fee for copies if they have created a records production and copying policy that details the charges in advance.

Records must be requested in writing by certified mail. The association must respond within 10 business days. This time can be extended up to 15 additional days if the association provides a proper written notice.

When purchasing. Texas law requires that most associations provide a copy of the governing documents, as well as a copy of a resale certificate, to a buyer who makes a request for such documents. The buyer may have to pay a fee. See Sect. 207.003 and Sect. 5.012 of the Texas Property Code. 

Texas Law

Which HOA records are confidential?

Some records of a property owners' association are considered confidential. The association may deny access to these documents except by court order or an affected individual's consent. Section 209.005 of the Texas Property Code lists several types of confidential records, including:

Texas Law

What if an HOA denies access to records?

If a property owners' association denies a property owner access to the association's books and records, the law allows the owner to seek relief in a justice court. This right is established in Section 209.005 of the Texas Property Code. 

Before filing a petition in the justice court, the property owner must inform the association of their intent to sue and state which records they are requesting. If the justice court finds that the owner is entitled to access, the judge can order the association to release the records. The court may order the losing party to pay for the opposing party's court costs and attorney's fees. 

Texas Law

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