A community association can change its name, so long as it complies with all requirements of Georgia law, and, if applicable, its governing documents. If your association is interested in changing its name, you’ll want to consult with your association attorney to discuss any individual requirements imposed by your association’s documents. However, the general process of changing a community association’s name is as follows:
1. Determine Authority. The process starts with determining whether an owner vote is required. Unless the association’s governing documents require a membership vote, the board of directors may change the corporate name without member action.
2. Pick a New Name. The board of directors may survey the community members for name ideas, or simply select a name. The Georgia Nonprofit Corporation Code establishes some basic requirements for a corporate name, including that the name:
- Contain the word corporation, incorporated, company or limited;
- Not exceed 80 characters; and
- Be distinguishable from other registered corporate names.
In addition, if your association is subject to the Georgia Condominium Act, the Georgia Condominium Act requires that the corporate name of the association include either the phrase “unit owners’ association” or the phrase “condominium association.” Similarly, if your association is subject to the Georgia Property Owners Association Act (the “POAA”), the POAA requires that the association name of the association include the word or words “homeowners”, “property owners”, “community”, “club” or “association.”
3. Reserve the New Name. After confirming the availability of the new name, you should reserve your new name with the Secretary of State. This prevents a third party from taking your new association name while you are moving through the name change process. The Secretary of State will initially hold a reserved name for 30 days.
4. Approve Name Change and Filing Articles of Amendment. The board should formally approve the name change. If your governing legal documents require owner approval, you should follow the required procedures. Otherwise, the board can approve the name change by board resolution. Once approved, the board must execute articles of amendment and file them with the Secretary of State to officially change the association name.
5. Publish the Name Change. Concurrently with the filing the articles of amendment, the association must publish its intent to change its corporate name in an official legal newspaper of the county where the registered office of the corporation is located. Although not required, we also recommend filing a notice or affidavit of the name change in the county land records that cross-references the recorded governing documents for the association. This will make life easier for title examiners searching county records for association documents.
6. Spread the Word. Notify members and vendors of the official name change. Obtain a new corporate seal, change names on bank accounts, and obtain new community signs. Use the name change as a positive promotion for the community.