B.M. from Oakland County, Michigan writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our bylaws are old and there needs to be some changes to keep them up to date. They have not been updated since the early 80s. Our board says it’s too expensive to change bylaws because of attorney’s fees. Is that true? Can’t someone change bylaws and then have an attorney look over to make sure the language is correct? I don’t find that to be very expensive. I assume this has to be a unanimous vote by the board or does it have to be by the owners?
Mister Condo replies:
B.M., regardless of any updates to the documents the association, the Board, and the members are all bound by state and federal law, regardless of what the governing documents say. It is quite common for older associations like yours to modernize their governing documents to prevent confusion and even to add clarity. That being said, there are rules about modifying your documents within the documents themselves and/or within your state laws. Those rules and laws must be followed before any modification to the rules can be made. In smaller associations, the cost may be too great for the association to bare and so, the documents remain as published but the Boards and members must still follow any laws that supersede the documents. Some law firms even offer a service called a document overlay, whereby they simply strike the rules or regulations that are prohibited by state law and add those that are missing from the current documents. This is typically not as expensive as a full rewrite but still must be adopted following the rules of the association for modifying the rules. Typically, a majority vote of the ownership is needed. My friends at the Hirzel Law Group in Farmington, Michigan have a great article on the subject that I highly recommend you read: https://micondolaw.com/2015/08/11/when-and-how-to-amend-your-michigan-condominium-documents-part-one-when-to-amend/ As the article suggests, getting proper legal representation to guide the association through the process is a great idea! All the best!