Creating a homeowners’ association, which can foster communication among property owners, set standards to maintain property values in a neighborhood and provide an outlet for concerns or complaints, requires some legal know-how. Some property owners shy away from the groups, as bylaws will put harsher restrictions on how they can use their property. If you’re interested in starting an association, it’s best to visit with other homeowners in your neighborhood, gauge the interest level, and perhaps find ways to sell the idea. Missouri state law dictates what it legally takes to start up one of these groups in that state.
Elect homeowners’ association officers. The group will need to have a board to make major decisions and changes. The board should include a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Also, determine who will be the group’s registered agent. The Missouri secretary of state's office will send all communications to this person.
Check for name availability. Before naming the association, it’s important to make sure the desired name isn’t already in use. You can search name availability in the secretary of state's Business Entity database (See Resource 1 below). If the name is unclaimed, you can apply to reserve it for between 60 and 180 days. The application will cost $25 and you will need to submit the form called "Application for Reservation of Name (BE 1)" (see Resource 2 below).
File Articles of Incorporation. This filing with the secretary of state creates the organization. The cost to file this information is $20, and you will need to fill out and submit the form called "Articles of Incorporation of a Nonprofit Corporation and Domestic Nonprofit Instruction Sheet (Corp. 52)" (see Resource 2 below).
Consult with neighbors and other leaders of the association and write bylaws. These rules will dictate what homeowners can and cannot due to be in line with the association’s standards. They can include anything from requiring landscaping to regulating fence height.
Communicate with other members. Set regular meetings and choose a form of communication, such as e-mails or a newsletter. Make contacts available to everyone in the neighborhood, so they know whom to contact with concerns.
Misleading filings: If an association files anything with the state that it knows is not correct, the intentional error could result in the charging of a Class A misdemeanor.
Don't jump the gun: Choosing letterheads or other items marked with an association's name before the state has approved the name may be a waste of time and resources.
Governmental affiliation: It is illegal to falsely imply with your organization's name or bylaws that it is at all tied to any level of government; it is not a public agency.
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