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Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities: Principles for Homeowners and Community Leaders

More than a destination at the end of the day, a community is a place people want to call home and where they feel at home. This goal is best achieved when homeowners, non-owner residents, and association leaders recognize and accept their rights and responsibilities. This entails striking a reasonable balance between the preferences of individual homeowners and the best interests of the community as a whole. It is with this challenge in mind that Community Associations Institute (CAI) developed Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities.

Rights and Responsibilities can serve as an important guidepost for all those involved in the community—board and committee members, community managers, homeowners and non-owner residents.

Community Leaders Have the Right To:

■ Expect owners and non-owner residents to meet their financial obligations to the community.

■ Expect residents to know and comply with the rules and regulations of the community and to stay informed by reading materials provided by the association.

■ Respectful and honest treatment from residents.

■ Conduct meetings in a positive and constructive atmosphere.

■ Receive support and constructive input from owners and non-owner residents.

■ Personal privacy at home and during leisure time in the community.

■ Take advantage of educational opportunities (e.g., publications, training workshops) that are directly related to their responsibilities, and as approved by the association.

Community Leaders Have the Responsibility To:

■ Fulfill their fiduciary duties to the community and exercise discretion in a manner they reasonably believe to be in the best interests of the community.

■ Exercise sound business judgment and follow established management practices.

■ Balance the needs and obligations of the community as a whole with those of individual homeowners and residents.

■ Understand the association’s governing documents and become educated with respect to applicable state and local laws, and to manage the community association accordingly.

■ Establish committees or use other methods to obtain input from owners and non-owner residents.

■ Conduct open, fair and well-publicized elections.

■ Welcome and educate new members of the community—owners and non-owner residents alike.

■ Encourage input from residents on issues affecting them personally and the community as a whole.

■ Encourage events that foster neighborliness and a sense of community.

■ Conduct business in a transparent manner when feasible and appropriate.

■ Allow homeowners access to appropriate community records when requested.

■ Collect all monies due from owners and non-owner residents.

■ Devise appropriate and reasonable arrangements, when needed and as feasible, to facilitate the ability of individual homeowners to meet their financial obligations to the community.

■ Provide a process residents can use to appeal decisions affecting their non-routine financial responsibilities or property rights—where permitted by law and the association’s governing documents.

■ Initiate foreclosure proceedings only as a measure of last resort.

■ Make covenants, conditions, and restrictions as understandable as possible, adding clarifying “lay” language or supplementary materials when drafting or revising the documents.

■ Provide complete and timely disclosure of personal and financial conflicts of interest related to the actions of community leaders, e.g., officers, the board, and committees. (Community associations may want to develop a code of ethics.)

~CAI National

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