Stephen A. Martin, Attorney at Law
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What to do when residents want to change association bylaws

Running a homeowners association is not an easy thing to do. It is impossible to keep all residents happy all the time. In fact, some HOAs in Missouri may find themselves dealing with residents who want to change certain things, such as the bylaws. How can a situation like this be handled?

Bylaws are the rules for how an HOA is to be run. Residents may request changes if they are not happy with how the board is handling things. Sometimes, changes may be required if the bylaws seem irrelevant. Whatever the reason, when a request to modify the bylaws is made, it is something that should be looked into.

Within the bylaws should be rules about changing the bylaws -- there is a certain process to it. It is not usually something the HOA board can do on its own. Much like making changes to the covenants, conditions and restrictions, it generally requires a membership vote. Any action taken without membership approval could result in legal claims being filed against the HOA. Of course, refusing to address residents' requests for change could also result in legal claims being filed against the HOA.

HOA boards in Missouri and elsewhere have a duty to listen to the residents in their communities, not just enforce rules as regulations as they are currently written. So, when residents want to change association bylaws, it is not something to ignore. Parties should look at the current rules and discuss acceptable changes -- if any. They should then seek legal counsel for advice on potential bylaw changes and assistance with rewriting the bylaws. Then, board members should go through the voting process if needed and appropriate.

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