Knowing the difference can avoid problems!
One of the most common situations we face is an Association thinking that it can use amendments to the bylaws to change the declarations (also known as the “covenants”). In western North Carolina this mistake is compounded by recording bylaws with the Register of Deeds. Bylaws and declarations serve two different purposes and amending the bylaws of your Association DOES NOT change your declarations.
Bylaws should be used primarily as internal operating rules for your Association – including information regarding election procedures, board and member meetings, and similar information. As an internal document, they should not be recorded with the Register of Deeds as this may inadvertently create uncertainty as to your declarations.
Declarations are used to describe property rights and obligations associated with property ownership in a restricted subdivision. That is why they are recorded with property records. In general, your declarations prevail over any conflicting provisions in your bylaws.