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Winterization Tips for Condos

The last week saw high winds, power outages, and colder temperatures sweep into the Pacific Northwest, announcing that winter is on its way. For condominium owners, cold weather brings a variety of risks that, if left unaddressed, can impact not

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The Mother of All Amendments

Has your condominium or HOA declaration been amended fifteen times? Are you tired of page after page of references to a declarant or developer that has been out of the picture (or out of business) for years, or even decades?

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What is the Guarantee in a Guaranteed Maximum Contract?

Associations facing repair projects are often given the option of entering into a guaranteed maximum contract or G-Max contract with their contractor. These contracts are common for repair projects, whether the repairs are required because of defects and damage or

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Common Pitfalls in Dealing with Major Repairs

Recent experience as litigation and general counsel for numerous associations who are currently tackling significant repairs suggests a couple of common pitfalls.  First, don’t skimp on the consultant. While some associations decide that using an engineer or architect to develop

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Loss Assessment Insurance

You live in a condominium association and happily (ok, probably not “happily”) pay your dues each month. Your board has diligent members and your association is well insured. What could go wrong? Well, lots can go wrong, unfortunately. Life is

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Unpaid Assessments: Liens & Personal Obligations – Part II

Last week, we discussed how delinquencies affect owners and the lots or units they own. This week, we discuss the effect of bankruptcy, sales and foreclosures on the personal obligation or liens.   Generally speaking, an owner’s bankruptcy affects the

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Unpaid Assessments: Liens & Personal Obligations – Part I

Under state law in Washington and Oregon, Condominium and Homeowner Associations have the authority to adopt and amend budgets, and levy and collect assessments from owners for the common expenses. But it can be confusing what happens when an owner

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Dog Days of Summer

With the mercury hitting record highs this week, I look out my office window and dream of jumping into a nice cool pool. As a community association attorney, my brain automatically shifts from recreation to work mode. I recently helped

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Robert’s Rules for Condominiums and HOA’s

Most community associations use parliamentary procedure to govern board and owner meetings. In the United States, the most popular form of parliamentary procedure is Robert’s Rules of Order. Complicated? Surely. But if you understand a few basics, you can learn

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Association Committees

Committees can be a productive tool for condominium and homeowners associations. Committees, such as budget committees or architectural control committees, can promote increased participation by owners, benefit from unique owner expertise, and help reduce the workload imposed on volunteer board

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Is a Loan Right for Your Community?

At a time when many condominiums are old enough to require major repairs or renovations, community associations can be overwhelmed by the cost. The word is definitely out that a community association loan may be a viable option for many

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Guiding Principles for Enforcement Hearings

Since our enforcement hearing presentation at WSCAI’s Made for Managers Day a couple of weeks ago, we have been getting a lot of feedback on the variety of procedures employed for community association enforcement hearings, generally with the question “is

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Summer is Prime Community Time

One of the primary objectives of a community association board of directors is to facilitate and encourage a sense of connection within their physical community.  There are multiple ways a board can boost community, including using committees comprised of homeowners,

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Consider the Source

The internet can be a wonderful resource but BEWARE: Not everything you read on the internet is true or accurate. It is also not a substitute for professional advice.  Sometimes, bad internet “advice” is easy to spot. For example, hopefully

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Online Harassment and Risk of Liability Under Fair Housing Laws

My colleagues and I have blogged about the importance of recognizing requests for reasonable accommodations/modifications, carefully and thoughtfully considering them, and properly responding in a timely manner. We like to think our posts on this topic have helped a few

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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

But there’s another way to get land—without an agreement and without consent

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Neutrality

Regardless of the behavior or how much the board likes or dislikes an owner or their actions, the Board has an obligation to uniformly and consistently apply the association’s governing documents

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Fractions and Votes Under Robert’s Rules

The math involved in determining voting requirements doesn’t usually have whole round numbers

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Directors vs. Officers

In community associations, however, the individual board members are usually the same individuals who serve as officers.

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The Business Judgment Rule

The standard of conduct in Oregon and Washington is colloquially known as the “Business Judgment Rule.”

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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.

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Reductions in Property Value Due to the Presence of Construction Defects

Oregon Supreme Court recognized and seemingly affirmed a strategy to reduce taxable property value due to the existence of construction defects

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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.”

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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.

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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

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Now Might be a Good Time for an Association Loan

Community association loan rates are probably lower than you think. Some of our associations have seen rates in the 4% range, and they may be going even lower if recent economic trends continue.

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Transitional Advisory Committees

The Oregon Planned Community Act and the Oregon Condominium Act 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)

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Understanding Easements

Simply put, an easement is the right of someone to use or access the property of another.

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Enforcement of CC&R’s

But does the association have an obligation to enforce the CC&Rs? In most cases, the answer is yes.

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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.

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Special Owner Meetings

The most common reason for a special owner meeting is for the removal of directors. Other reasons include approval of special assessments and amending the governing documents

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Changes Coming in FHA Condominium Guidelines?

The proposed law would streamline the FHA’s certification requirements for condo projects

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