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Pre-Existing Conditions

It is difficult to turn on the news or open a newspaper (do people still do that?) without hearing a discussion of pre-existing conditions. The discussion relates to replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I am fortunate that employer-provided

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Here Comes the Sun

In preparation for writing this week’s blog post, I googled songs about the sun. Dozens of cheery, happy songs immediately sprung from the internet. Out of curiosity, I also googled songs about rain. A few select, dreary, and depressing songs

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Election Got’cha! (WA)

This is the time of the year when many community associations hold board member elections. The process is easy, right? The association identifies the number of open positions, solicits nominations, sends out a meeting notice with candidate information and proxies

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Discover the Truth About Your Contractor (WA, OR)

A recent newspaper article warned homeowners of an inspector who had been fined more than $80,000 by Oregon’s Construction Contractors Board (or “CCB”) for performing illegitimate inspections and using the license number of an inspector who had the same first

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Case Study: Harrison West Tower Re-pipe

The Harrison West Condominium Association required a re-pipe of their historic 24-floor residential tower situated in the desirable PSU area of Portland Oregon. Community Engineering Services, PLLC formed a team with engineering specialists Dan Robles, PE, David Coles, PE, Architect

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Galvanized Pipe Condition Assessment

Community Engineering Services, PLLC was retained by a home owners association representatives to support a Galvanized Pipe Condition Assessment for a high-rise condominium in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The results published here were presented to a

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2017 Legislative Update (OR/WA)

Oregon and Washington law makers are in session. There are several proposed house and senate bills which impact condominium and homeowner associations. Here’s a brief summary, along with links to review the language of the proposed legislation.     Read the

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‘Tis the Season of the Annual Meeting

Reaching the end of the contentious and hotly contested national election was no doubt a relief for many of us. However, for our community association clients, there is no rest for the weary because late winter and spring is association

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Understanding Governing Documents Restatements (OR/WA)

The process of amending governing documents is no easy task. Changes to the CC&Rs typically require between 66%-75% of the owners to approve. Bylaw amendments, on the other hand, are a little easier to modify, usually requiring a majority vote

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Sure, you can read it but this is our STANDARD LANGUAGE

We have all seen onerous and unfair language in contracts, waivers, releases, invoices, disclaimers, disclosures, notices. Sometimes it is in the dreaded “fine print.” Sometimes it is in large bolded, underlined print. When one party challenges such language, we often

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Free Speech in Community Associations

Condominium and homeowner associations in Washington and Oregon often deal with free speech issues. Political signs are perhaps the most common issue. It is commonly misunderstood that owners have a right to display political signs. Generally, there are no free

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Oregon High Court Clarifies How To Read the Four Corners of a Complaint

On December 8, 2016, the Oregon Supreme Court issued a decision, West Hills Development Co. v. Chartis Claims, Inc., 360 Or. 650 (2016), clarifying what allegations in a construction defect suit will implicate coverage under an “ongoing operations” additional insured

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Dealing With Ice is Anything But Neat

Those of us in the Northwest were recently hit with the first round of winter snowstorms. My children are avid weather watchers (in hopes of future school closures), so I understand that we are in store for several more storms

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Tree Trouble – Part II, Self-Help

In part one of our three-part series on Tree Trouble, my colleague David Silver wrote about Timber Trespass. In this post, I’m going to discuss self-help. Self-help is the legal term that describes “taking the law into your own hands”—literally.

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Rigged (HOA!) Elections

A few months ago, the Chairman and Secretary of a Pennsylvania community association were convicted by a jury of election fraud. The directors schemed to fill out ballots to stack the deck in upcoming board elections. An attorney in Las

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I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore

Kansas, of course, is in the heart of Tornado Alley and home to the most famous tornado of them all: the one that swept Dorothy into the Land of Oz. Recently, however, Oregon and Washington felt the effects of multiple

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Financial Review Requirements for Oregon Planned Communities

The following outlines the requirements for financial reviews in Oregon Planned Communities. The requirements are found in ORS 94.670.  Read the article…………

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Adverse Possession and Community Associations

There are several ways to acquire ownership of land. The most common form, of course, is by purchase. A buyer and seller enter into an agreement, and at closing of the transaction title is conveyed to the new owner.  But

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Neutrality

Association boards deal with a variety of unit owner behaviors and personalities. Some are positive, some are negative, and some are downright inexplicable. This can lead to both real and perceived bias.  Regardless of the behavior or how much the

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Fractions and Votes Under Robert’s Rules

Condominium and homeowner association documents contain many different voting requirements. For example, the required number of votes to elect a director is usually different than the number of votes required to adopt an annual budget.   The math involved in determining

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Directors vs. Officers

There is often confusion about the difference between directors and officers in condominium and homeowner associations. Much of the confusion stems from the corporate world. In large corporations the board members of a corporation are often different individuals than the

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The Business Judgment Rule

Community Association board members frequently ask, “What is the standard we’re held to when we vote and make decisions?” The standard of conduct in Oregon and Washington is colloquially known as the “Business Judgment Rule.” Application of the Business Judgment

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Cumulative Voting

Some community association bylaws or articles of incorporation authorize the use of cumulative voting for the election of directors. Under this type of voting, owners may cast multiple votes for a single candidate.  Read the article………….

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Reductions in Property Value Due to the Presence of Construction Defects

Last month the Oregon Supreme Court recognized and seemingly affirmed a strategy to reduce taxable property value due to the existence of construction defects. In Oakmont, LLC v. Oregon Dept. of Revenue (2016), the owner of an apartment complex valued

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Insurance Discovery Rule

I have a number of “First Party Insurance” claims sitting on my desk (e.g. an Association pursuing its own carrier for discovered property damage). Many of these involve the “discovery rule.” Having dealt with this rule on a number of

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Dealing With Short Term Rentals

The rise of short-term lease websites (AirBnB, VRBO) has caused significant concern among condominium and homeowner associations. Repeated, short-term rentals may cause parking issues, noise, and other nuisances which disturb community residents. What can an association do to restrict these

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The First Amendment and Community Associations

For the most part, community associations are not bound by the First Amendment, either. CC&Rs and Bylaws often restrict owners’ rights to display signs, even political signs. In a well-known Pennsylvania case a unit owner wanted to place a “for

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Now Might be a Good Time for an Association Loan

Interest rates have never been better. As a result, many owners have jumped at the chance to refinance their homes or condos at seriously low rates. Yet, individual owners are not the only ones who can benefit from these low

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Transitional Advisory Committees

The Oregon Planned Community Act (ORS Chpater 94) and the Oregon Condominium Act (ORS Chapter 100) provide for the formation of a transitional advisory committee to facilitate the transition of the association from the developer to the owners.    

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Drone Registration

Last December the Federal Aviation Administration implemented a rule requiring the registration of small unmanned aircraft systems (drones). Under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Section 333, the Administration is authorized to adopt rules and regulations governing most

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Understanding Easements

Easements are very common in condominium and homeowner associations throughout Oregon and Washington. Simply put, an easement is the right of someone to use or access the property of another.    Read the article…………

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Enforcement of CC&R’s

Condominium and homeowner association CC&Rs are, in many ways, similar to contracts. If one party breaches the terms of the contract, the other party may seek the help of the legal system for damages or to require the breaching party

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Methods of Voting

There are numerous methods of taking a vote in community associations. For issues which may be challenged, it’s wise to use a written paper ballot. For other non-controversial matters, associations may choose from a variety of voting methods.    Read

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Special Owner Meetings

Community associations typically have three types of meetings: board meetings, annual owner meetings, and special owner meetings. The notice requirements, quorum provisions, and subject matter are very different for each type of meeting.    Read the article………….

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Changes Coming in FHA Condominium Guidelines?

If you’re a listener to “Condo and HOA Buzz” you heard over the past two weeks that Congress recently passed a bill that includes important provisions affecting all condominiums in the country. On February 2, 2016, HR 3700 was approved

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The Importance of Mediation (OR)

Engaging in mediation implies that something between the parties has broken down. There’s a disagreement, an argument, a conflict. Mediation provides a mechanism to settle the conflict by conversation and voluntary agreement.   Read the article…………

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Explosions in the Sky

Setting off fireworks is a bright, colorful way to celebrate certain special occasions. While most commonly associated with the 4th of July, it is not unusual for people to set off fireworks on New Year’s Eve and other holidays, as

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Drones in Community Associations

Drones are no longer exclusive to the military. The prices continue to plummet and the technology has improved to allow even the not-so-tech-savvy consumer to easily pilot the flying devices. But when drones land on the White House lawn or

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Deciphering Association Records Requests

This past weekend I spoke at the Community Association Institute’s (“CAI”) South Sound Law Day on the topic of association records. Based on the number of questions from the audience on owner requests to obtain or review records, I thought

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Board Member Resignations

Suppose that during the middle of a board meeting a director stands up and says “I quit!”. Immediately, the director leaves the meeting. Does this constitute a resignation from the board of directors? And what if the director returns to

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Marijuana in Communities

We are often asked whether a condominium association may prohibit cigarette smoking in common areas, or in units or single family homes. Now that using marijuana is legal in Oregon and Washington, some associations are wondering if they can or

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The Importance of Bids

Most homeowner and condominium associations engage the services of professionals to help with the operations of the community. These professionals include accountants, landscapers, contractors, and managers. As board members, you have a duty to ensure that association funds are spent

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Resolution, Rules & Regulations

This is a broad category, and refers to those documents that are typically adopted by the board of directors without a vote of the owners (note: some associations may have owner approval requirements). Examples include: architectural guidelines, collections resolutions, enforcement

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Architectural Review Guidelines

Many community associations are governed by architectural design guidelines. Often, those guidelines are enforced by an architectural review committee (sometimes called architectural control committees or architectural design committees). The guidelines allow owners to know what types of changes require approval,

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Board Members & Proxies

Occasionally board members of homeowner or condominium associations may not be able to attend board meetings. In most cases it is appropriate for absent board members to participate by telephone.   Read the article………….

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Association Records Requests

It is common for issues between community associations and owners to escalate into disputes when there is a request by the owner to review association records. On the one hand, a board may not understand the obligation and elect to

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Online Voting for Community Associations

We recently concluded a membership vote to adopt an entirely new set of CC&Rs and Bylaws. The CC&Rs require 75% of all owners to approve, and the Bylaws require 51%. With nearly 300 lots in the community, it was a

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Can’t We All Just Get Along?

There are certain situations in life that tend to bring out the worst in people, and one of those is when neighbors just cannot seem to get along. Whether at an HOA or condominium, when people of diverse personalities and

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FHA Certified Condominiums

Many condominiums throughout the United States are Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) certified. This allows prospective buyers to receive FHA-insurance loans and mortgages. If a condominium is FHA certified, that means that the condominium meets all of the FHA legal, financial,

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Builder’s Pact Doesn’t Nix Insurer Liability, Ore. Justices Say

An Oregon condominium association’s agreement to not execute part of a judgment against a builder in construction defect litigation doesn’t automatically erase the builder’s liability or that of its insurer, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled Thursday, upending a 42-year-old precedent.

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