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.


Homeowners Have the Right To:

  • A responsive and competent community association.
  • Participate in governing the community association by attending meetings, serving
    on committees and standing for election.
  • Access appropriate association books and records.
  • Prudent expenditure of fees and other assessments.
  • Live in a community where the property is maintained according to established standards.
  • Fair treatment regarding financial and other association obligations, including the opportunity
    to discuss payment plans and options with the association before foreclosure is initiated.
  • Receive all documents that address rules and regulations governing the community
    association—if not prior to purchase and settlement by a real estate agent or attorney,
    then upon joining the community.
  • Appeal to appropriate community leaders those decisions affecting non-routine
    financial responsibilities or property rights.

Homeowners Have the Responsibility To:

  • Read and comply with the governing documents of the community.
  • Maintain their property according to established standards.
  • Treat association leaders honestly and with respect.
  • Vote in community elections and on other issues.
  • Pay association assessments and charges on time.
  • Contact association leaders or managers, if necessary, to discuss financial obligations
    and alternative payment arrangements.
  • Request reconsideration of material decisions that personally affect them.
  • Provide current contact information to association leaders or managers to help ensure
    they receive information from the community.
  • Ensure that those who reside on their property (e.g., tenants, relatives, friends)
    adhere to all rules and regulations.

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.)

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