Have you been elected to your association board? We put together some vocab you will want to be familiar with. We also recommend asking your property management company if additional specific terms might apply to your association.
Property/Association Manager
Property/Association Managers oversee the association’s daily management and operations. They help enforce rules, regulations and bylaws, administer board-approved policies and guidelines, and facilitate important tasks such as financials, mass communications, grounds and building maintenance, and other administrative tasks.
Governing Documents
A shorthand term for the Declarations of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, but may also refer to Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation and/or Rules and Regulations of the association. Articles of Incorporation are the equivalent of Declarations in a cooperative, which does not have a Declaration.
Articles of Incorporation
This document is filed with Minnesota’s Secretary of State and is what legally establishes/incorporates your Minnesota homeowner association, condominium, or cooperative. It addresses bringing the association corporation into existence, defines its purpose and powers, and denotes the structure of its Board of Directors. Typical articles specify the purpose of the corporation, whether it is operated for profit, what officers it has and other similar items. Most master planned communities are non-profit, non-stock entities; whereas condos and co-ops are largely operated based on the corporation concept.
By definition, bylaws are “rules that govern the actions of its members”. In this document, you might find topics like the requirements for membership, how often meetings are held, member voting rights, board member term length, quorum requirements, and duties of various offices of the board of directors. Bylaws are often subject to modification by the Board of Directors or by a vote of the membership of the association.
Declaration (of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions).
This document is filed/recorded in the county where the property is located and is legally binding. This means that when you purchase a lot or a home in a neighborhood with a Declaration, you automatically become a member of that association. This document is like the constitution of the association because it defines the rights of members and the powers and authority of the association and its Board of Directors, including:
Architectural control standards, restrictions, and obligations;
Activities that promote communal harmony;
What property is owned by individual homeowners and what is owned by the community;
The relationship among all homeowners and the community for funding, governing and maintaining the development;
Transition of control of the association from the developer to the homeowners.
Recorded Plat Map
This document is a map drawn to scale by an engineer, showing the divisions of a piece of land. Approved by the county and filed in the recorder’s office, it shows the precise layout of a condo or planned community. Recorded plats help distinguish an owner’s and community’s title to the property, as well as determine who is responsible for maintaining property.
Assessments/Association Fees
Association Fees are what fund the operation of an association. Every member pays a pre-determined amount to cover their portion of maintenance and upkeep of the association and its common amenities like swimming pools, tennis courts, and fitness centers; and shared services like landscape maintenance, snow removal, waste and recycling collection, and building security. These fees also pay for intangibles such as insurance, administrative work, accounting, property taxes, among much more. Regular assessments are levied and paid on a regularly occurring schedule. 
Special Assessment
An assessment levied to finance a single project or undertaking. Distinguished from a regular assessment which is levied regularly for the regular operations of the association. Though levied only once, special assessments may nevertheless be paid in regular installments over a period of time. In poorly managed association, special assessments occur with some regularity.
Common Area
Also referred to as common elements, it is those parts of the property which are not part of any individual unit and which are shared by some of all unit owners. These areas are administered by an association and the boundaries between common areas and individual units is specified in the governing documents of the association. Also see Limited Common Area.
Limited Common Area
A part of the common area which is reserved for the use of an individual unit owner. Exterior decks are the most common example. Though reserved for the use of a specific unit, they are nonetheless part of the common area and as such may be maintained by the association. 
The authority to cast a vote for another who is not present, usually at a meeting. The right to cast votes by proxy is not automatic, but must be authorized by the governing documents of an association or by the Board of Directors operating under authority given by the Declaration or by statute. Many declarations also contemplate the use of proxies, either explicitly or implicitly.
The number of persons who must be present in order to hold an official meeting and conduct business. In the case of an association, it is the number of units that must be represented, either in person or by proxy (if proxies are allowed), for an official meeting to be held. Quorum requirements are generally specified in the governing documents or bylaws.
Board Resolutions
A board resolution is a motion that follows an established format and is formerly adopted by association board members. Resolutions assign rules and regulations to an association. Here are four types of resolutions for a community association:
Policy: Affects owners’ rights and regulations including shared common areas, architectural requirements, and enforcement procedures.
Administrative: Addresses internal workings of the association including operating procedures, collections policies, and location of meetings, etc.
Special: Board rulings specific to an individual situation such as a violation.
General: Outlines routine, ordinary events on a community’s calendar such as adopting the annual budget and approving service contracts.
For more information on how to be the best board member you can be, contact FirstService Residential today.
Friday January 08, 2021