2220 Pittsfield Village Blvd. | Ann Arbor, MI | 734-971-0233 | office@pittsfieldvillage.com

How It Works


Association Responsibilities

Community associations are created to provide exclusive benefits to the owners within a specific real estate development. The responsibilities may vary with each community, and are in accordance with the desires of the association members and their elected Board of Directors. 

The specific duties and responsibilities of a community association are found within their unique set of governing documents. These governing documents typically consist of: 

  1. Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (also called a Declaration; Covenants; CC&Rs; or Master Deed) - Creates the community association, contains the deed restrictions, establishes mandatory membership and payment of assessments.
  2. Articles of Incorporation (though some condominiums do not have Articles of Incorporation since many states treat condominiums like corporations) - Sets forth the structure and basic governance of the corporate body.
  3. Bylaws - Defines how the association is to be operated.
In general, the duties and responsibilities of a community association consist of any combination of the following six areas:

Common Areas
Community common areas can be as little as a sign and median strip at the front entrance to a small single-family home community, to as large as a planned community of 25,000 homes which contains extensive greenspace (parks, trails), recreational facilities (marinas, clubhouses, pools, tennis courts), streets and parking areas.

Deed Restrictions
Deed restrictions are designed to provide a common standard of conduct for the community, and may define rules concerning the size and number of pets, limitations on parking and types of vehicles, renting of the home, age restriction of residents, business use of the home, and maintaining the appearance of the property.

Architectural Control
Architectural control provides the mechanism to ensure that the character and aesthetic harmony of the community is maintained in subsequent years, and protected from a gradual deterioration of standards. Prior to purchasing a home in a community association, a prospective buyer should review the architectural restrictions to ensure agreement with standards.

Services & Maintenance Responsibilities
Maintenance and repair responsibilities coordinated by the association provide consistent appearance and quality of work throughout the community, as well as the time-saving benefit for the members. The collective group purchasing power provides for economical services for the common enjoyment of all residents.

Protection of Property Values 
Although usually not specifically listed within the governing documents, one of the primary purposes of an association is to protect property values. Whenever someone allows the appearance of their yard and home to seriously deteriorate, it often negatively impacts their neighbors and their property values.

Compliance with common standards helps to ensure the pleasing appearance of the community, the marketability of homes, and maximizes - if not enhances - their collective property values.

Quality of Lifestyle 
Another association purpose usually not stated within the governing documents is to maintain a quality of lifestyle for all of the community residents. All too often, we lock ourselves into our homes without having the opportunity to enjoy the company of our neighbors while celebrating the various traditions and festivities during the year. The association can and should act as the vehicle to help bring neighbors together to foster a sense of community.

Architectural Control

Architectural control restrictions are designed to maintain the aesthetic harmony of the community, and thereby also to protect property values. When a community was first constructed, it likely conveyed a certain look and feel to provide design consistency - which made it easy for the initial developer to market the community to prospective homeowners. Over time, residents will make modifications to the exteriors of their homes - whether necessary or not - such as changing the paint color or roofing materials, and the addition of landscaping, fences, decks and play areas. Without an architectural standard, these gradual changes can easily affect the appearance of the community. Even for condominium owners, they may wish to change the color of their door, or paint their balconies a unique color. These gradual changes may be perceived as weakening the spirit of common design and neighborhood aesthetic, which may then affect property values.

Appearance is not only limited to upgrades or changes, but also to neglect. Not everyone takes pride in the appearance of their home and yard. Imagine how you would feel to live next door to a home where the grass was not cut and the landscaping consisted of dead bushes, paint that is peeling on the house, and an old trailer with a torn tarp is parked in the street. Architectural control standards help ensure that this situation does not happen with your neighbors, so that your - and their - property values are protected.


Board Responsibilities

Community associations are governed by Boards of Directors, which consist of persons democratically elected by their membership. Elections to the Board are held at the association's annual meeting, and members typically serve staggered, multi-year terms. During the initial development of the community, the Board is often composed of members selected by the developer (or "Declarant") to ensure the community is completed as originally planned.

As in other forms of representative government (federal, state and local), the association members elect persons whom they believe will devote the time and will best represent their interests. The Board representatives have a fiduciary duty to use good business judgment and to put the best interests of the entire community ahead of their own personal interests.

The Board is empowered to make all of the operational decisions affecting the community association, with the exception of certain powers which are specified in the governing documents and reserved exclusively for the membership (such as approval of special assessments or increases to annual assessments above a particular amount, or election and removal of directors).

The Board is required to comply with all of the mandates cited within the governing documents, and should also represent the collective needs and desires of the membership. The Board usually has the authority to determine the broad range of quality and quantity of services provided by or for the association. For example, if the governing documents state that the association shall be responsible for the maintenance of the grounds, the Board may either select a contractor to perform a minimal level of service, or hire a full-time on-site grounds crew to provide the highest level of care - choices which result in a correspondingly wide-range of costs to the members.

One of the most important functions of the Board is to establish the organizational structure for the community association. The organizational structure determines a chain of command to specifically assign the tasks and duties of the community association to a management team and committees of the Board. The management team may consist of a combination of volunteers, paid employees or a contract management company like Associa and its subsidiary firms. Once established, the organizational structure should not be changed unless significant improvements or changes are needed.

The Board is ultimately responsible for the oversight of the community association ("the buck stops with the Board"). Although the Board may retain and delegate some of its duties to volunteers, contractors and professionals, the Board is still ultimately responsible for the duties it may have assigned to others.


Deed Restrictions

Deed restrictions are recorded within the governing documents and provide specific common standards of conduct for the entire community. Common examples of deed restrictions include restrictions on the size and number of pets, limitations on parking and types of vehicles, renting of the home, age restriction of residents, business use of the home, and maintaining the appearance of the property. Deed restrictions are not easily changed, and usually require a significant majority vote of the membership to amend. The Board of Directors is charged with enforcing the deed restrictions, and may not ignore or selectively enforce the restrictions. Violations of deed restrictions may result in a temporary suspension of privileges, removal of the violation with associated costs charged to the member, or monetary fines.

In addition to the deed restrictions, the governing documents usually grant authority to the Board of Directors to adopt rules and regulations governing the use of the common areas (or common elements, for condominiums). Common examples of rules and regulations include parking limitations and types of vehicles, policing of pets, and use of common area facilities (clubhouse, pool, etc.). The Board may adopt, amend, or remove rules and regulations at its discretion. The Board may not enforce rules and regulations governing your own property, unless specifically granted such authority within the governing documents.


Homeowner Responsibilities

When someone purchases a property within a community association, a deed restriction on that property provides that the property owner automatically becomes a member of that community association, and continues to be a member of the association until they no longer own the property.

Just as the community association has certain responsibilities to its members, the members also have certain legal responsibilities to their community association. These responsibilities can typically be categorized into three areas: 

  1. Comply with the deed restrictions in the governing documents and rules and regulations lawfully adopted by the Board
  2. Comply with the architectural control restrictions
  3. Pay the homeowners proportionate share of the expenses to operate the association.

Paying for the Association's Operations

A community association typically has a wide range of services which it can provide for its members, as well as corresponding costs. The homeowner's voice and election of Board members determine the level of service provided, and the ultimate costs to the members. Community associations depend upon their members to make timely payments of assessments to ensure all obligations can continue to be met.