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Oregon Condo & HOA Articles Archive

/ Owner - July 2, 2012
  • Navigating the Challenges of a Hard Insurance Market
    As board members of a homeowners association (HOA), it is crucial to stay informed about the ever-changing dynamics of insurance markets. These markets can fluctuate between being hard or soft, which directly impacts the premiums and coverage options available to your community. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between hard and soft insurance markets and discuss practical strategies for HOA board members to navigate the challenges of a hard insurance market.  Read the article………………………..
  • Food production in HOAs (OR)
    Egg prices were so high in some states at the beginning of 2023 that some people started joking about buying live chickens instead. This way, they could have a personal supply of eggs. But homeowners living in Oregon may soon get that opportunity if they really wanted to try farming their own eggs.   Read the article………………………..
  • HOAs Must Understand Use and Power of Contracts
    The board of directors in a homeowners association (HOA) is responsible for the functionality and governance of the community. One of the powers and duties delegated to the board of directors is the power to negotiate and enter into contracts, which is highly significant to the operation and bylaws of an HOA.   Read the article………………………..
  • How far will you go to reduce your wildfire risk?
    No one wants to lose their home in a wildfire. But what pushes people to act beforehand to protect their property — to cut down overgrown shrubs around decks, prune low-hanging tree branches or clear dead leaves from gutters?   Read the article………………………..
  • Where and why more new homes are getting wrapped into homeowner associations
    In the low-interest rate era that followed the 2008 housing crisis, real estate developers rushed to build housing stock to meet rising demand. Federal data suggests that nonprofit associations have been set up at an increasing rate to govern these new developments.  Read the article………………………..
  • Open Meetings In Oregon HOAs & Condos
    Oregon homeowners associations and condominium unit owners associations are subject to open meetings laws. The laws are found in ORS 94.640 for planned communities, and ORS 100.420 for condominiums. However, each of those statutes was amended by the legislature in 2021 by the adoption of Senate Bill 329. The rules for Oregon planned communities and condominiums are essentially identical.   Read the article………………………..
  • Receiverships in HOAs and Condos (OR)
    Volunteering to serve on the Board of a Community Association can, unfortunately, often feel like a thankless job. In many cases, conflict among the Directors, or between owners and the Board, can make service to the community an extremely stressful experience. Several of our clients have reported that they are finding it difficult to recruit new volunteers willing to serve, and they wonder what will happen to their Association if no members are willing to volunteer. Typically, the only alternative to a volunteer Board of Directors is a court-appointed receiver.   Read the article………………………..
  • When Natural Beauty Became a Threat: The Evolution of a Firewise Community (OR)
    No one will ever forget the Summer of 2020…the orange sky that hung over us for days. The stench of what remained of a destroyed landscape…the ash falling like snow in the 100-degree heat.   Read the article………………………..
  • Deadline Approaching for Community Association Anti-Discrimination Review (OR)
    As the end of the year fast approaches, community associations should ensure compliance with the new requirements in HB 2534 to remove discriminatory provisions from governing documents. The deadline for compliance is December 31, 2022. The requirement, adopted in House Bill 2534 in the 2021 legislative session, includes specific anti-discrimination laws and requires communities to conduct a review of their governing documents–an exercise seen as necessary to root out any lingering vestiges of discrimination in private covenants.   Read the article………………………..
  • What is a Reserve Study and Why Does Your Community Need One?
    The financial health of a community and planning for long-term projects is critically important to any homeowner’s association (HOA). In fact, it is so important, a term was created for it: “reserve study.” And while the term “reserve study” probably isn’t anything new if you serve or have ever served on an HOA board, many new homeowners, or those new to an HOA, may not fully understand the importance of a reserve study for the ongoing health of their community.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Oregon HOAs and Condominium Associations Must Remove Discriminatory Language by End of Year
    Pursuant to HB 2534—a bill that passed the Oregon Legislature in 2021—homeowners associations and condominium associations are required to review their governing documents and either (1) remove discriminatory language or (2) certify the nonexistence of such language on or before December 31, 2022.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • It Ain’t What It Used to Be: 5 Tips for Managing the Bidding Process (OR)
    In the wake of pandemic delays and a new focus on deferred maintenance since the Surfside tragedy, many associations have significant projects to bid out to contractors. But the process has changed in the past couple of years. Read on for advice on navigating it effectively.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Oregon Court of Appeals Addresses Conversion of Golf Course Land to Residential Subdivision Over Protest of Homeowners Association
    In desirable areas of the Pacific Northwest, including Portland, Seattle, and Central Oregon, disputes and concerns relating to land development, lack of developable property within urban growth boundaries, and the effects thereof on supply and demand of homes and home prices have taken center stage.1   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Are Rentals Allowed in an HOA? (WA/OR)
    Rentals are a hot button issue for many associations this year. Recent rent increases exceeded 16-year highs, and the number of single family rentals increased by more than 10% over the last year. Given these numbers, it’s no wonder a lot of homeowners are wondering “Can I rent out my home if it’s part of an HOA?” The short answer is, maybe. This article explains how to find out if rentals are allowed in your HOA and, if so, what rules and restrictions affect them.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • What’s the Difference Between HOA Bylaws and CC&Rs?
    If you buy a home in a planned community, you’ll most likely have to become part of a homeowner association (HOA). An HOA is a legal non-profit entity filed with the state that is responsible for managing and maintaining the assets of the community (i.e., the appearance of the homes and properties as well as common areas within the neighborhood/community).   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 7 Ways Boards Can Help Homeowners Follow HOA Rules
    There’s a fine line between enforcement of rules and fostering community bonds. Often homeowners will perceive Board Members as being too harsh and unruly when enforcement is too strict or communication is poor. Boards may sometimes become exhausted with having to deal with owners breaking rules repeatedly. When problems arise, and one particular rule/regulation is consistently broken, it may be time to revisit the governing documents for a possible revision. It may also be time to reconsider how the Board is communicating with homeowners or how information is being made available as a resource to them. Here we’ve outlined eight ways to help owners follow the HOA rules:   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Governing Documents of a Community Association
    The term ‘governing documents’ refers to a host of documents, some of which are recorded, some which are filed with the state, and others are merely distributed to owners. In general, governing documents include: the Declaration/CC&Rs, Bylaws, Plat, Articles of Incorporation, and Rules/Regulations/Resolutions.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Architectural Guidelines in Oregon & Washington HOAs
    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, acceptable materials and colors, and the process to appeal a decision.    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Is my HOA’s application of bark dust every year a waste of money? Ask an expert (OR)
    Q: I live in an HOA in Corvallis. Every year or two we pay a lot to have the bark dust blown into the beds around bushes. It’s blown in to save the expense of humans shoveling it in. Is there a study of the relative costs of having bark dust blown in every couple of years vs, having larger bark chunks shoveled in by humans?   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Assessment Offsets in Oregon HOAs
    It is a problem we see often in our office. An owner withholds paying HOA assessments on the grounds that the Association is somehow failing to perform its duties and obligations under the governing documents. Although their actions may seem justified, owners need to understand that these withholdings are not allowed under Oregon law, and it usually ends with the owner paying the association additional hundreds to thousands of dollars in interest and late fees, plus the Association’s collection and legal fees. A lien will also likely be placed on the owner’s property.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 5 Easy Tips to Keep HOA Board Meetings Concise
    Successful HOA board meetings are inclusive, timely, and respectful. But unfortunately, board meetings can often last much longer than everyone anticipated, which can be frustrating for everyone. Here are 5 tips to help keep your meetings concise.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Important Oregon Legislation Update: Electronic Meetings Now Law
    The Oregon Legislature enrolled SB 329, making electronic meetings law……… “Electronic Meeting” means a meeting that is conducted through telephone, teleconference, video conference, web conference or any other live electronic means where at least one participant is not physically present.Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Oregon SB 329 (Electronic Meetings) Now Law
    Today the Governer signed into law SB 329. This bill authorizes Oregon HOAs to continue to conduct electronic meetings, including special meetings of the owners and annual meetings.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Oregon Supreme Court Smacks Down Lending Practices That Hurt Community Associations
    During the last real estate meltdown one of the biggest problems was that banks who financed purchases of condominiums were not foreclosing and in essence leaving the community association “hanging out to dry.” The State of Oregon addressed these dirty lending practices with some powerful legislation.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Reading The CC&Rs Is An Essential Task In The Homebuying Process (OR)
    Covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) are generally not considered to be scintillating reading material. While it’s a laborious task, it’s a crucial part of the homebuying process when considering purchasing a home in a planned community. Planned development communities can come with many perks, such as neighborhood parks, trail systems, pools, tennis courts and clubhouses. With these amenities also come rules and regulations for the planned development. These are enforced by the homeowner’s association and are legally binding.    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Oregon Supreme Court Holds that Condo Association Takes Priority over Lender
    The Oregon Supreme Court recently held that a condo association’s lien for unpaid assessments took priority over a bank’s lien because the bank failed to initiate foreclosure proceedings within 90 days of the condo association’s notice concerning a condo owner’s default.  Read the article……………………………………..
  • Oregon Supreme Court Holds HOA Lien Primes First Mortgage or Deed of Trust if No Foreclosure Within 90 Days of Notice
    The Oregon Supreme Court recently held that a lien for delinquent condominium assessments has priority over a first mortgage or deed of trust, where the mortgagee fails to initiate a foreclosure action within the 90-day notice period prescribed by ORS § 100.450(7).   Read the article………………………………….
  • Update: Collections During a Pandemic (OR/WA)
    Many associations have inquired whether they can take any collections action during this pandemic. Neither Federal or Washington or Oregon State laws, prohibit an association from sending delinquency notice letters, recording liens, or filing lawsuits.   Read the article…………………………..
  • The Importance of a Reserve Study and Ongoing Preventative Maintenance of Reserve Study Items
    Recently my brother-in-law and his fiancé were in the market to purchase their first home. We were having a conversation about prospective homes and the fact that they all have an HOA fee. To say the least, he was not thrilled about the idea of having an additional payment on top of his mortgage. Not to my surprise, he really had no idea what the HOA assessment was covering, which I think is true for many people – especially first-time buyers. I asked him about the community in which he was looking to purchase, specifically about the governing documents, parking, and most importantly, the Reserve Study and Reserve Fund.   Read the article………………………………
  • Do You Have to Join an HOA?
    You’ve found the perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood, for the perfect price. But then you find out it’s in an HOA and you will be charged a monthly fee. Perhaps this isn’t what you had in mind and you don’t really know much about what HOAs are all about. You may have heard stories about the restrictions of living in a community association. Can you refuse to join?     Read the article……………………………..
  • Construction Defects: What They Are, How to Avoid Them, and What to Do When They Occur
    A construction defect is a term nobody wants to hear mentioned about their project. But what is it, exactly? Simply put, a construction defect is a deficiency in the design or construction of a building or structure. It can cause big headaches for everyone involved.    Read the article……………………………………….
  • Indemnity and Hold Harmless Provisions in Association Contracts
    Condominium and homeowner associations frequently enter into contracts with third-parties. Examples include landscaping contracts, management contracts, and construction contracts. In order to protect the interests of the association, many community association attorneys include indemnity provisions in the contract. Here’s a common example of an indemnity provision:   Read the article………………………….
  • Applying the Oregon Planned Community Act
    The Oregon Planned Community Act (ORS Chapter 94) was adopted in the early 1980s. The Act applies to any subdivision where the owners have collective obligations. Collective obligations include maintaining common property or paying assessments that are used for association operations. A community may be subject to ORS Chapter 94 even if created prior to the adoption of the Act and even if the governing documents make no mention of the statute.     Read the article……………………………
  • Withholding Assessments Won’t Work
    Sometimes community residents become dissatisfied with the association for some reason. In this case, let’s use maintaining the parking lot as an example. Mr. Homeowner is unhappy because several small potholes have appeared in the parking lot, and the association hasn’t repaired them. He called the manager who said that all potholes will be repaired in the spring. “It’s much easier and cheaper to fix them now, while they’re small,” Mr. Homeowner states. The manager explains the association’s maintenance schedule and states that parking lot repairs are scheduled, and budgeted, for spring.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Using Proxies in Community Associations
    Oregon and Washington law authorize the use of proxies unless prohibited by the governing documents. (RCW 24.03.085, ORS 65.231) Many condominium and homeowner associations find it impossible to achieve quorum at annual meetings without the use of proxies.  A proxy is a power of attorney between the “proxy giver” and the “proxy holder”. The proxy holder attends the ownership meeting and can act on behalf of the proxy giver, including making motions, voting, and engaging in debate.    Read the article……………………….
  • How Long Do Oregon HOA Liens Last?
    Homeowner associations in Oregon are governed by the Planned Community Act, ORS Chapter 94. Under that statute, homeowner associations have an “automatic” lien on any lot that is delinquent on assessments or dues. The automatic lien exists without filing or recording a traditional paper lien in the county records.  That said, in the event that the HOA decides to foreclose on its lien, then a traditional lien must be filed and recorded.     Read the article…………………………….
  • Forming an Oregon HOA
    Many (mostly older) Oregon subdivisions have recorded CC&Rs, but no homeowners association to enforce or administer those CC&Rs. The Oregon Planned Community Act, ORS Chapter 94, lays out a procedure to form a homeowners association in certain types of subdivisions. The process is described in ORS 94.574. Here’s a summary:    Read the article…………………………..
  • Amending Governing Documents (OR)
    Amending your condominium or homeowners association governing documents is no easy chore. It can be a long and costly process, and even then, you may not receive enough votes to approve the amendments. The process of amending goes like this:    Read the article…………………………
  • Misadventures in Rulemaking
    Arguably the most challenging task a community association board of directors can undertake is drafting rules and regulations for their community. Good intentions, but bad drafting, can lead to unanticipated results and make enforcement difficult or impossible.    Read the article………………………
  • Security & Privacy Meet in the Hallway
    Incorporating technology into our homes is big, big business in the Unites States. Where once we were clapping at our lamps, now we can control virtually everything inside and outside of the home with the sound of our voice or apps on our phones. As part of this growing trend, video doorbells have become immensely popular, and offer real-time video and audio streams, as well as cloud-based recording. Companies like Ring, August, Nest, and Honeywell have a wide variety of devices with near limitless options.  Read the article…………………
  • What is Design Review, and Why Do I Need It?
    Have you ever been walking through a neighborhood, looked at a house, and said to yourself, “Boy, am I glad that is not my neighbor!”? The likelihood is all of us have done this at some point…maybe the paint scheme was a tad “out there,” the yard was not quite maintained, or maybe it just looked like the builder was not paying attention to certain details during construction.Read the article………………..
  • Insurance Industry Responds, and Owners May Pay the Price
    Events of casualty damage, even when some of the damage is covered by an association’s insurance policy, can be very expensive for condominium and homeowners associations, primarily because association insurance deductibles are typically tens of thousands of dollars per claim. The deductible expense is really just the portion of the cost to repair that is not covered by insurance, and is often a common expense paid by all owners.  Read the article………………
  • No, You Don’t Own Your Condo Parking Spot
    A relatively common request fielded by condominium associations is from owners wanting to sell their parking spot to another owner. While many owners may believe they own their parking space, parking spaces are almost universally classified as limited common elements that are assigned to a particular unit. While this means unit owners have many of the rights of ownership related to their parking space – such as preventing other vehicles from using the space – from a legal standpoint, they do not own title to the space.   Read the article……………..
  • Update on the Infamous Open Garage Door Rule
    On January 25, 2018, I blogged about an HOA in Auburn, California that passed a rule requiring all of its owners to leave their garage doors open during the day. The goal of the rule was to prevent owners from using their garages as living spaces. The patently overbroad rule—which, in effect, would render residents’ possessions in their garages unsecured—subjected the association and board to local and national media scrutiny and criticism.  Well, according to subsequent reporting by KGO-TV San Francisco and The Sacramento Bee, the association placed the rule on hold while it works with members to adopt a more reasonable policy. That seems like a good plan.     Read the article………………
  • Code RED
    I was recently participating in a mediation for a client condominium association. We are pursuing a first party insurance claim for property damage discovered by the client. Due to the amount of repairs necessary for the project, the client triggered certain code upgrades required by the County and fire department. The upgrades were both unexpected and costly at just under $500,000.   Read the article…………….
  • The Power of the ARC
    As reported recently in the CAI Law Reporter, the end of 2017 saw a number of state courts rule on the powers of architectural review committees (or “ARCs” for short).  In CB Investments v. Murphy and Weber v. Board of Directors of Laurel Oaks Association, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, respectively, held that a tree house and a mailbox were “structures” requiring architectural approval under the communities’ governing documents. In McVicker v. Bogue Sound Lot Club, the South Carolina court of Appeals held that the HOA’s ARC did not have the authority to require a construction bond (or fee) for ARC approval of a construction project. And in Cynar v. Barth, the Supreme Court of ...
  • What do Your Rules Say about Your Community?
    A lot has been said about community association rules, but most of these discussions center on the content of the rules as opposed to the overall language used or impression the rules give to owners within the community. Yet, there is another aspect of rules to consider. A good set of rules conveys not only what is permissible in a community, but says something about the character of a community.    Read the article……………..
  • Lien for Unpaid Assessments (OR)
    Under Oregon state law, condominium associations and homeowner associations have an automatic lien against the unit or lot for unpaid assessments. In Washington, a condominium association has a lien on a unit for any unpaid assessments levied against a unit from the time the assessment is due. Unfortunately for Washington homeowner’s associations, the state law is silent and does not specifically provide that the homeowner’s association has a lien against the lot for unpaid assessment  Read the article……………….
  • Elevator Pitch
    I recently read an article published by U.S. News & World Report titled, How to Win a Fight With your Condo Association – Without Going Broke by Teresa Mears. The article includes some solid guidance. A more accurate but less flashy title might have been – How to influence Association Policy – Without a Fight.  Much of the article is common sense to those of us that work with association boards and owners on a daily basis. However, it is important to remember that most owners have little experience with how community associations actually function. Here are a few snippets from the article that board members and industry professionals might consider common sense.     Read the article……………………….
  • Child’s Play
    The HOA Act states that, unless otherwise provided in an association’s governing documents, an association may adopt and amend rules and regulations. RCW 64.38.020(1). With such broad authority, how does a board know if a rule goes too far? Is there a rule of thumb?  I thought about these questions recently after hearing about an HOA in California that passed a rule requiring all of its owners to leave their garage doors open during the day. The purpose of the rule, apparently, was to prevent owners from using their garage as a living space.    Read the article…………..
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