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Plat Maps and Surveys

The plat for your community is an important governing document. The plat is an aerial depiction of the lot boundaries, roadways, common areas, and easements. The filing of the plat and declaration is what creates the community. The plat contains

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Court Defers to Association’s Interpretation of its Bylaws (WA)

The Washington Court of Appeals recently held that an association’s board of directors was validly constituted and properly passed bylaw amendments, so the board (and the management company as the board’s agent) had the authority to charge and collect fines

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Reserve Study Washington: “The Top Six Components”

A reserve study is a budget and disclosure document, supplementing operating & maintenance budgets for the large expenses that don’t occur each year. In this busy world, focusing on a handful of key items in your reserve study may keep

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Plat Maps – A 3 Part Series For Homeowners Associations

In my day job, I primarily manage homeowners associations versus condominiums. Instead of being focused on the buildings themselves, I find myself more focused on the land on which they are built. I often tell people I am a “plat

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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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Legislative Alert (WA)

The 2017 Washington State legislative session commenced on January 7, 2017 and is in full swing. It’s expected to be another active session involving condominium and homeowner associations. Hearings are already taking place and bills are being introduced, including:   Read

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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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Possession after Judicial Foreclosure (WA)

Recently, the Division 1 Court of Appeals of Washington issued its opinion in the case of Viewcrest Condominium Association v. Robertson, 2016 WL 7470025 (December 27, 2016). The decision by the Court in Viewcrest will need to be considered when

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Washington Court of Appeals Issues Redemption Act Opinion

The Washington Court of Appeals recently issued a published opinion regarding the application of the Washington Redemption Act (RCW 6.23). The Court’s opinion holds that “a condominium owner occupying the condominium as a residence at the time of a judicial

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Washington Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Homeowners Association

The Washington Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a Camas homeowners association’s actions concerning board membership and delinquent assessments in a recent unpublished opinion.    Read the article…………..

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Uncollected Assessments: HOA Budgeting for Bad Debt

For the past 35 years, Lake Superior State University publishes a list of “banished” words and phrases. The annual list includes words and phrases that are misused, overused, and generally useless. The 2010 list includes such gems as “sexting”, “tweet”,

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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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Comply with Fire Alarm Requirements! (WA)

It’s cold outside, so thoughts turn to fire. As Q13 reported last month, Snohomish County fire officials recently confirmed that fifteen local condominium and apartment buildings are not updated with legally required fire alarms. The compliance crackdown came about a

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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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Tree Trouble – Part I, Timber Trespass

One aspect of real property law that I find interesting is how some of the nastiest legal disputes are between neighboring property owners. On one hand, it would seem incumbent upon neighbors to be friendly and cooperative to one another

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I’ll see you out of court! Alternative options for resolving legal disputes

While some courts require mediation before trial, it is generally undertaken voluntarily. Mediation is always non-binding, meaning the mediator has no power to decide the case. The mediator’s sole role is to try and negotiate a settlement that both parties

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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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Washington Court of Appeals Affirms Order to Trim Hedge Row and Restore View

A Mercer Island homeowner sued his downhill neighbors for specific performance of a covenant that requires landscaping to be maintained at a height no greater than the nearest roof peak. His neighbors responded that a hedge row on their property

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What Did That Say?? Political Signs & Free Speech (WA)

It is often said that this U.S. presidential election has been the most polarizing election in modern times, if not all time. Because of the strong opinions on every side, more and more community associations are having to address not

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Court of Appeals Enforces Covenant Restricting Height of Trees and Hedges

The Washington Court of Appeals recently issued an unpublished opinion that a row of trees violated a covenant restricting “hedges” to a height of six feet or less. The parties own property in a neighborhood on Whidbey Island that is

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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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New FHA Rules to Create New Association Duties

On September 13, HUD released new rules for the Fair Housing Act (FHA) that will impact community associations. Under these new rules, which take effect on October 14, 2016, a community association could face liability for the discriminatory acts of

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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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Court Rejects Condominium Owner’s Attempt to Invalidate Assessments (WA)

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment denial of a condominium owner’s legal challenges to the assessments charged to his unit.    Read the article……………

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Associations Not Required to Disclose Privileged Information

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that the Maryland Condominium Act did not require disclosure of information related to legal advice or attorney work product (privileged information) to owners. Although this case was decided in Maryland, and it is

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Is Short-Term Leasing a “Commercial Use”?

In Houston v. Wilson Mesa Ranch Homeowners Association, Inc., the Colorado Court of Appeals held that short-term rentals did not violate a covenant prohibiting commercial use of a unit. However, this ruling did not indicate that all restrictions on short-term

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Business Judgment Rules does not Apply to Unauthorized Acts

The South Carolina Supreme Court held that association board decisions must be evaluated individually to see if the business judgment rule applied, and the business judgment rule did not apply when the board acted beyond its authority. Although this case

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The Blame Game

Most of us can be quick to point fingers. It might be a fender-bender, an overcooked hamburger, or losing the Superbowl on the last play of the game – I know my first instinct is to figure out who is

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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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Just Dues

One of the unavoidable realities of being an owner at a condominium association is the obligation to pay membership dues. Typically, a condominium’s board of directors will levy an annual assessment based on a budget that has been ratified by

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Why So Few Condos in Seattle (Part 2)

In last week’s post, we discussed the data and hard numbers supporting the influx of apartment buildings over condominium projects in the Puget Sound region. We concluded simple economics-maximizing profit-was the reason the large number of cranes in Seattle and

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Why So Few Condos in Seattle (Part 1)

The record-setting number of cranes visible in the Seattle and Bellevue skylines reflect a construction boom that began in earnest in 2015. Companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and other IT darlings are hiring like crazy. Like San Francisco, Seattle

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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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Unintended Consequences (WA)

One of the main takeaways from the Washington Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bilanko v. Barclay Court is that a declaration amendment that is adopted in a manner that does not exceed its legal authority and and does not appear

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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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Bilanko v. Barclay Court Owners Association

In last week’s post “Hot Off the Press,” we advised readers that the Washington Supreme Court published on that day Bilanko v. Barclay Court Owners Association,an important decision relating to challenges to declaration amendments involving Washington “New Act” condominiums. The

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Washington Supreme Court Issues Bilanko v. Barclay Court Opinion: 4/28/16

Bilanko is the most recent addition to the ongoing saga in Washington law and the enforceability of condominium declaration amendments under the WCA (RCW 64.34). Bilanko involved a homeowner challenge to the enforceability of a declaration amendment that restricted unit

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(WA) Supreme Court Decides Bilanko – Upholds Rental Cap That Was Challenged Too Late

The Washington State Supreme Court has just issued its much anticipated ruling in Bilanko v. Barclay Court, dismissing a rental cap lawsuit an owner filed more than one year after the rental cap amendment had been recorded. This decision protects

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Can a Board Member be Excluded From an Executive Session? (WA)

The Washington Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that a homeowners association director who is opposing the board on an issue and is likely to file a lawsuit against the association is not entitled to legal advice from the association’s

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Association Required to Provide Names and Addresses of Delinquent Owners

The Kansas Court of Appeals held that Kansas law requires a homeowners association to disclose the names and addresses of delinquent homeowners. Although this case was decided in Kansas, it could be an indication of how a Washington court might

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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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Washington Court of Appeals Resolves Road Maintenance Agreement Dispute

The Washington Court of Appeals ruled in a published opinion last month that a road maintenance agreement did not create a homeowners’ association. It also ruled that a majority of lot owners did not have the authority to amend that

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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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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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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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Common Sense Prevails: State of Collapse Nonexistent Thirteen Years before Discovery of Decay

For years, property insurance policies that exclude rot damage have been called upon to cover rot because the policies extend coverage to “collapse”—an undefined term—caused by hidden decay, even if the structure remains standing and in use.  Read the article………..

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Discrimination Against College Students Legal?

A South Carolina court upheld a condominium restriction prohibiting rentals to college students. The ruling of a South Carolina court in not binding in Washington, but it demonstrates how a Washington court may decide a similar issue.   Read the article……….

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New Lending Guidelines Making It Tough on Some Condo Buyers- Condo HOAs and Owners You Can Help

A recent article in the Seattle Times, discussing buyer’s challenges with loan guideline changes, reminded me of the importance of HOA and condo buildings doing their best to stay viable and eligible for FHA, VA and Fannie Mae approvals not

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