Many homes built today are governed by a homeowners association. According to the Community Associations Institute, there are 305,400 associations governing 24.4 million homes. Homeowners associations can vary widely in power, but all set rules and policies in an effort to keep a neighborhood an attractive place to live. In Oregon, the state legislature establishes the law that dictates and limits the power of homeowner associations. Some cities have further restrictions on what an association can and cannot do.
Forming an Association
Under Oregon law, homeowners associations must be nonprofit organizations. Each association must have a president, a secretary and a board of directors. If a corporation owns a lot in the planned community, an officer representing that corporation may serve on the board of directors. Board members may be elected by homeowners, and the board may appoint a director, legal representative or court-appointed financial director to the board. Board members do not necessarily have to be home owners.
Many homeowner associations require homeowners to pay regular dues to cover the cost of utilities like water or sewer, services such as snowplowing or lawn work, maintenance of community features, such as a pool or gym and insurance for the community as a whole.
The board of directors establishes dues and has the right to change the dues or approve special assessments. The board also has the power to vote on rules and policies including, but not limited to, owning pets, parking and exterior home decorations. The board of directors may also levy fines against homeowners who violate the homeowner association’s policies and pursue collection of unpaid dues or fees.
In Oregon, the homeowner association board may adopt an annual budget for the association and provide a summary of that budget to all owners within 30 days after the vote. If the board does not adopt a budget, the previous budget will stay in effect. The board may also call elections on issues that must be decided by all homeowners.
While Oregon law does not dictate the number of board members, a gathering of 20 percent of the board’s members qualifies as a quorum. A quorum is required to vote on all matters and the community’s home owners must be notified when a quorum meets.
Unless there is an emergency, the board of directors must post a notice of an upcoming meeting at least three days in advance. The board may hold executive sessions that are closed off to homeowners to: consult with a lawyer, consider personnel matters, negotiate contracts with a third party or discuss collection of unpaid assessments.
Homeowners and board members may cast votes in person, by mail by electronic ballot or by appointing a proxy. All bylaws must be recorded with the county clerk.