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 often provide rules and procedures for board meetings, elections, fees and assessments, and ways the association can enforce their rules.
The bylaws are the first source you should consult when you have questions about how your association is run.
Association website. If a subdivision association has a management company and the authority to charge assessments, Texas law requires that the current version of the “dedicatory instruments” be posted online for all members. Section 209.002 of the Texas Property Code defines dedicatory instruments as “each governing instrument covering the establishment, maintenance, and operation of a residential subdivision.” Section 207.006 also applies to subdivision associations with no management company if there are 60 or more lots.
County clerk records. Section 202.006 requires that all “dedicatory instruments” be recorded with the real property records of the county clerk in all counties where the association is located. Here, dedicatory instruments is defined as “each document governing the establishment, maintenance, or operation of a residential subdivision, planned unit development, condominium or townhouse regime, or any similar planned development.”
When purchasing. Texas law requires that most associations provide a copy of the bylaws when purchasing residential property subject to a property owners' association (Section 5.012 and Section 207.003 of the Texas Property Code).
Upon written request. Section 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.
To request access to records, a request must be in writing and sent by certified mail. The association must respond within 10 business days but may extend this time for up to 15 additional days if they provide proper written notice.
If a member is denied access to the association's books and records, the law allows the member to seek relief in justice court. If the justice court finds that the member is entitled to access, the justice of the peace can order the association to release the records. The court can also award court costs and attorney's fees.
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:
4 years after expiration