Rules are regulations adopted by a board governing procedure or conduct within a development.1
Rules do not include, and are thus distinguished from, the regulations imposed by other governing documents such as the declaration (CC&Rs), especially inasmuch as such other documents require approval of the owners to adopt or amend.
FN 1. The term "rules" is not defined in the Community Association Act or the Condominium Ownership Act. Thus, we turn to Utah Code § 68-3-11 which provides that, "Words and phrases are to be construed according to the context and the approved usage of the language; but technical words and phrases, and such others as have acquired a peculiar and appropriate meaning in law, or are defined by statute, are to be construed according to such peculiar and appropriate meaning or definition." The term "rules" in an HOA context is a technical word that has acquired a peculiar and appropriate meaning in law and thus is to be construed according to such meaning. As to a declaration and rules being separate and the distinction that rules are adopted and amended by a board as opposed to a declaration adopted and amended by the owners, see, Utah Code § 57-8a-217(1)(a) ("a board may adopt, amend … rules"), § 57-8a-102(7) and § 57-8a-212, § 57-8a-209 § 57-8a-701(2)(a) and (b), and § 57-8a-228(5). As to the plain meaning of rules, see merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rule (defining rule as, "A regulation governing procedure or conduct.").
Authority to Adopt Rules; Validity
Rules are different from the provisions of a declaration, bylaws, articles of incorporation or plat. The declaration can generally only be amended with the consent of the property owners. By contrast, rules are adopted by the board and are seldom recorded. Restrictions that might be valid if included in a declaration may be invalid if effected by a rule because property owners lack the safeguards afforded by the vote needed for an amendment to the declaration.
An association has power to make rules in furtherance of its power over the common property. The association has no inherent power to regulate use of the individually owned properties in the community, however, except as authorized by statute or the CC&Rs, and as implied by its responsibility for management of the common property.
Rules Governing Use of Common Areas
The association’s power to regulate the use of common property is limited only by the provisions of the governing documents, any applicable statutes, and the requirement that the rules be reasonable. In determining the validity of a rule, the primary determinant is whether the rule is reasonably related to furthering a legitimate purpose of the association. Rules designed to minimize wear and tear or damage to common property, to promote safety in use of common property, and to minimize conflicts over use of scarce resources, like parking or tennis courts, clearly further the association’s prime purpose of maintaining and managing the common property.
Adoption or publication of rules that are illegal may subject an association to liability. See, e.g., Martin v. Palm Beach Atlantic Ass’n, 696 So.2d 919 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1997) (publication of house rules prohibiting occupancy by children under the age of 12 violates federal Fair Housing Act § 3604(c) even if there is no attempt to enforce the rules).
(For reference: 57-8 is the Condo Act, 57-8a is the Community Association Act, 16-6a is the Nonprofit Act)