Rhode Island HOA Laws and Regulations
Know your association’s laws
Know your association’s laws
Homeowners’ associations in Rhode Island are not governed by a government act. The Condominium Ownership Act defines laws and regulations that apply to all condo associations but these laws do not apply to HOAs managing individual units. Most community associations are registered as non-profit corporations and therefore must follow the Rhode Island Nonprofit Corporation Act.
Since there are no formal HOA regulations, community rules can vary drastically. Community associations have the freedom to create and enforce as many, or as few, regulations as they see fit as long as they do not contradict any state or federal laws. Typically, homeowners will sign a contract upon purchase of property within an HOA managed community. Once signed, the homeowner is responsible for obeying all rules set forth by the association.
The initial board of directors must create the community articles of incorporation, regulations for the corporation, along with bylaws, which outline the rules for voting, elections, and meetings, and file them with the secretary of state to become a legal entity. Once the corporation has been set up, amendments to the articles of incorporation must get majority approval from all members eligible to vote. The board of directors alone have the power to adopt and amend bylaws.
It is the responsibility of the HOA to keep correct records including financial accounts, minutes of meetings, and a record of all names and addresses of members entitled to vote. All community documents must be made reasonably available to any member upon request. The board may deny a request if the records are not being used for official community matters.
For general maintenance of common elements, the HOA may collect regular assessments from homeowners. They may also impose fines for any violations of community regulations. If an account becomes delinquent, the homeowners’ association may place liens on the property and, in extreme cases, can even foreclose on the property despite on-time mortgage payments.
The board of directors must file an annual report with the secretary of state describing the actions of the corporation for the previous year. Annual reports must be filed every June.
HOA members have the right to vote in elections and community meetings as described in the articles of incorporation. Members are not guaranteed the right to vote, nor must the voting rights be equally distributed amongst members. Voting rights will vary between communities. Check the community articles of incorporation for details.
All elections and voting are to take place during community meetings which must be held at least annually, if not more frequently as described by the bylaws. Special meetings may also be called by the board president, the board of directors, or at least 5% of the voting power. Notice for all meetings must be given at least 10 days, but no more than 60 days before the meeting is to take place.
Amendments to the articles of incorporation require majority agreement from members with the right to vote. Before any changes take effect, they must be filed as articles of amendment with the secretary of state. All voting must take place during a member meeting, either the regular annual meeting or a special meeting.
HOA rules in Rhode Island vary widely. It is important to read and understand all community regulations before purchasing property in an HOA-managed community. Most homeowners’ associations require the signing of a contract upon purchase.