Although condominium associations in Texas are private entities governing developments, this does not mean that they are outside the reach of public law. Of the many rules and regulations that condominium associations must abide by, federal law is the strongest. Regardless of their status as a private entity, associations may not do anything that goes against a federal law, and as federal law changes, so must the practices of condominium associations. All condominium associations must respect laws like the Helping Families Save their Homes Act of 2009, the Fair Housing Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The next set of governing restrictions comes from Texas state law. Just as Texas associations must abide by federal law, associations cannot take any action that is outside the realm of what is allowed by Texas law. The Texas Property Code, with acts like the Uniform Condominium Act, can directly control what actions condominium associations are allowed to take. Finally, condominium associations are governed by the local ordinances, codes, and regulations of the city or county in which they are located. This means that what is legal is Austin may not be legal in Houston. Because the associations are governed by these laws, it is important that property owners boards stay familiar with the current laws and how they are changing.
Texas Condominium associations are also governed by any documents relating to the property that are properly adopted and recorded with the county real property records. The recorded documents that govern are usually created by the individual developments. These typically include the recorded declarations, CC&R’s, articles of incorporation, and bylaws – in order of superiority. The bylaws must be in line with the articles of incorporation, which must be in line with the declaration, for example. The key to this is that the document that created the development, whether that be a declaration or a CC&R, will always rule (as long as it is within the legal limits set out by public law). These documents created by the developments are recorded with the county and treated as official legal documents, and the condominium associations must give them that level of reverence.
The final, and weakest, governing power on condominium associations are the policies and practices of the condominium association board. When the board makes a rule or implements a policy, it must be respected as long as it complies with all public law and recorded documents.
***This article was prepared by Rachel Robinson and edited by Austin Lawyer Chloe Love.