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Washington Condo & HOA Articles Archive

/ Owner - July 3, 2012
  • Court of Appeals Resolves Dispute Between Competing Community Association Boards (WA)
    There was recently litigation to determine which of two competing boards of directors of a community association had the right to access the association’s bank accounts. One of the litigants originally served on the association’s board as an appointed director and president.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Discrimination Claims within Community Associations (WA)
    A person’s home is intended to be their sanctuary from the public. As such, situations which arise that affect a person’s ability to feel safe and secure in their home are particularly harmful. This is, in part, the basis for the protections provided in the Fair Housing Act. Through recent amendments to the Fair Housing Act, these protections have expanded to make persons (or entities) liable for a third party’s discriminatory conduct that the person had the power to correct. This means, in the context of community associations, an association could be held liable for the discriminatory conduct of a homeowner within the community if the association had the power to stop it.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Court of Appeals Decides that HOA Is Not Required to Enforce Parking Restrictions (WA)
    The Washington Court of Appeals has issued an unpublished opinion concerning a property owner’s claim that his homeowners association is legally obligated to enforce parking restrictions.   Read the article……………………………
  • Court Upholds Association’s Decision to Refrain from Enforcing Covenant (WA)
    In a recent unpublished Washington Court of Appeals opinion, a lot owner had sued his homeowners association and contended that it had a duty to take certain actions with regard to parking enforcement.   Read the article………………………………
  • Can my HOA do that? A guide to homeowners association regulations in Washington state
    Nearly a third of Washington state residents live in a community association, according to research from the Community Associations Institute. In 2021, the most recent data shows, there were more than 10,000 associations in the state, with over 2.4 million people living in them.   Read the article………………………………..
  • HOA Budgeting Tips: Understanding the Shifting Insurance Market
    The insurance market has always been a dynamic arena, with predicting stability often resembling a high-stakes gamble. Even seasoned insurance agents, with their wealth of experience, find themselves in uncharted territory given the current market landscape. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the current state of the insurance market, shedding light on the unprecedented developments that have rocked the industry and providing HOA budgeting tips for board members looking at insurance costs.    Read the article………………………..
  • New Washington Law Related to Licensed Child Care Services in Associations
    The Washington Legislature recently passed House Bill 1199, which directly affects the rights of homeowners and condominium unit owners and their respective associations as it relates to the provision of licensed child care services. This bill became effective on May 1, 2023 and amends all existing acts which govern associations   Read the article………………………..
  • Washington Court of Appeals Upholds Condo Declaration’s Exculpatory Clause
    The Washington Court of Appeals recently ruled in an unpublished opinion that a condominium’s declaration exculpated the condominium association from any liability arising out of an owner’s claim that the association neglected to maintain a common element.   Read the article………………………..
  • Washington’s New Requirements for Construction Defect Notices – Does the New Statutory Language Contain an Error?
    On July 23, 2023, changes to Washington’s construction defect notice statute, RCW 64.50.020, took effect. The new requirements apply to construction defect notices sent on behalf of condominium associations. But does the statute, as written, contain an error?   Read the article………………………..
  • New Washington law could make condos less expensive, but are buyers less protected?
    Everybody wants housing they can afford.  Lawmakers have tried many strategies to give that to people. One is to bring the cost of homes down by reducing the price developers pay for things like insurance.  A new bill that went into effect this week aims to do that.  But not everyone’s happy about it.  Read the article………………………..
  • 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………………………..
  • 4 New Washington Bills Affecting Common Interest Communities That Developers Should Be Aware Of
    Washington’s legislators had their eye on common interest communities (CICs) during the 2023 regular session, which ended on April 23, 2023. Three bills relating to or affecting CICs become effective on July 23, 2023. One became effective immediately. Here is a brief summary of the new laws.   Read the article………………………..
  • The Economy and the Well-Prepared Association (WA)
    Lately, it feels like our country has been on an economic roller coaster, traversing through work-from-home requirements and mass layoffs during the Pandemic; shifting to severe employee shortages, supply chain issues, and return-to-the-office requirements; and most recently experiencing high inflation and high interest rates,    Read the article………………………..
  • New Laws Apply to Washington State Community Associations
    The Washington State Legislature recently approved several new laws that affect existing community associations. The first new law prohibits community associations from prohibiting, unreasonably restricting, or limiting the use of properties for licensed family home child care or as licensed child daycare centers.   Read the article………………………..
  • Privacy and Privileged Documents in Washington State Homeowners’ Associations and Condominium Associations
    Members of Washington’s homeowners’ associations and condominium associations have the right to access and review the records maintained by their association. However, there are certain limitations on this right, and it is important to keep that in mind when making any requests to your association for access to these records. First let us discuss the general right that owners have to access association records and then turn to the limitations on this right.   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………………………..
  • Defendant in Covenant Violation Lawsuit Ruled to be Entitled to Attorney Fee Award (WA)
    A recently issued court opinion in Washington state concerned a line of cypress trees near the boundary between two properties that allegedly blocked a view of sunsets and downtown Portland in violation of restrictive covenants on those properties.   Read the article………………………..
  • Can Some Units be Removed from an Association? (WA)
    A Declaration can be amended to allow certain units to exit an association provided the governing documents and relevant statutes are followed, but obtaining an attorney opinion first will likely help you if the matter goes to court.   Read the article………………………..
  • Many Community Association Directors Are Not Permitted to Vote by Proxy (WA)
    Directors of condominium and homeowners associations may sometimes want to vote by proxy rather than attend a board meeting. However, Washington state law does not permit many of them to do so.   Read the article………………………..
  • WA bill to address housing discrimination, including previously in some Longview neighborhoods
    Proposed legislation to create a program helping first-time homebuyers historically barred by racial covenants is moving forward despite objections to raising the document recording fee by $100 to pay for it.   Read the article………………………..
  • ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING STATIONS IN CONDOMINIUMS AND HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATIONS
    On June 9, 2022, RCW 64.34.395, and its counterparts, RCW 64.32.290, RCW 64.38.062, and RCW 64.90.513, were enacted to enable the installation of electric vehicle charging stations (“EVCS”) in condominiums and homeowners associations, while protecting the associations and their members from bearing the costs required for such installation, as well as the costs of continued maintenance and electricity required for the functioning of such charging stations.   Read the article………………………..
  • Conducting a Vote Without a Meeting (WA)
    Community association boards often ask me whether they may conduct a vote without a meeting. Washington state law does permit this, but only under the conditions stated below. If your board has questions or concerns about how to interpret and apply this law, then it should consider contacting my office to obtain guidance.   Read the article………………………..
  • PENDING SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS: AN AMBIGUOUS PHRASE WITH HUGE REPERCUSSIONS! (WA)
    When you are considering whether to purchase a house in an homeowners association or a condominium unit, besides the location, location, location of the property, the next big indicators of whether the property will work for you is how much the property will cost you initially and whether there are additional fees that you should expect to pay. Where we obtain this financial information has been dictated by Washington statutes, but in a manner that leaves quite a bit to be desired.   Read the article………………………..
  • HOAs and Special Assessments: What to Know (WA)
    If you have considered living in or currently live in a community with a homeowners’ association (commonly referred to as an HOA) such as a condominium or complex of townhomes, you have likely heard of special assessments.    Read the article………………………..
  • Timely Notification Key to Insurance Coverage: Condo Denied Coverage for Delayed Damage Report (WA)
    This is the case of Franssen Condominium Association of Apartment Owners v. Country Mutual Insurance Co. et al., in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.   Read the article………………………..
  • Washington Court of Appeals Issues Opinion Concerning Water Trespass
    The Washington Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion concerning water trespass. A homeowners association and one of its owners sued a golf club and alleged that it artificially collected and discharged surface water into their property in a manner different than the natural flow of such water.   Read the article………………………..
  • Is Your Homeowners Association Limiting Short-Term Rentals Within Your Planned Community – and if Not, Should They? (WA)
    With the rise of planned communities in Seattle, it is becoming more and more common for properties to be organized and operated as a Homeowner Association (“HOA”). An HOA is typically form as a separate entity with the intention of making and enforcing the rules for the properties and residents within the planned community. The rules will either permit or limit certain activities in the community.   Read the article………………………..
  • Citizen Suit Enforcement/Clean Water Act: Federal District Court Addresses Alleged Violation by Wetland Biofilter Stormwater Treatment System (WA)
    A United States District Court (W.D. Washington) (“Court”) addressed in an October 31st Order a Clean Water Act citizen suit action seeking an injunction to remedy alleged illegal discharge of pollutants into a lake and its abutting wetlands. See Bang v. Lacamas Shores Homeowners Association, 2022 WL 16553016.   Read the article………………………..
  • Court Affirms Homeowners Association’s Decision to Grant Fence Variance (WA)
    The Washington Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that a homeowners association committee properly exercised its authority under real estate covenants to grant owners a variance for a cedar fence.   Read the article………………………..
  • What is Considered “Reasonable Time” When it Comes to Association Actions and/or Decision Making (WA)
    An Association’s Board of Directors is responsible for, amongst a multitude of other tasks, taking appropriate actions and/or making decisions based on issues that arise within the community. Some common examples may be: water intrusion that causes damage to a unit, units, and/or common area; an architectural request submitted for review and approval by an owner; or a rules violation complaint filed by one owner against another.   Read the article………………………..
  • Washington Court of Appeals Rejects Owner’s Assessment Exemption Claim
    An owner in a condominium association recently refused to pay assessments on his unit and argued that he was exempt from doing so due to the association’s mismanagement of common funds.  Read the article………………………..
  • PAINTING THE EXTERIOR OF YOUR HOME WHEN YOU LIVE IN A HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION OR SITE CONDOMINIUM
    We have all heard of that bright pink or purple house that somehow exists as an eyesore or curiosity in an otherwise traditional neighborhood. How did it come to be here? Aren’t the neighbors furious about it?  Read the article………………………..
  • Which Statute Governs My Condominium Owners Association or Homeowners Association? (WA)
    Navigating the applicability of the various Washington association statutes and their applicability can be a challenge. To help determine which law applies to your association, you have to answer two questions regarding your association: When was my association’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”) recorded with my county’s Recorder’s Department or Auditor’s Department? and what type of association is it?   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Washington State Approves Law Regarding Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
    A new law in Washington state concerns electric vehicle charging stations. It prohibits community associations from adopting or enforcing provisions in their governing documents that effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station….  Read the entire 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……………………………….
  • Washington Supreme Court Upholds Homeowners Association’s Assessment Decision
    The Washington Supreme Court recently issued an opinion upholding a homeowners association’s member-ratified decision to raise funds through a combination of use-based fees and per-lot assessments as authorized in its governing documents.    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • New Decision Gives Washington HOAs Broader Deference in Allocating Assessments
    Surowiecki vs. Hat Island Community Association et al. is an important decision for homeowners’ associations throughout Washington State. It gives associations broad deference when deciding how to allocate assessments. So long as the association is making a discretionary decision in a procedurally valid manner and with reasonable care, the courts will not second-guess the association.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Short-Term Rentals Are a Residential Use in Most Washington Community Associations
    With the rise of Airbnb and other similar services, more and more homeowners are looking to rent out their property on a short-term basis. Whether a homeowner is allowed to do so is a question that can be answered by reviewing the association’s restrictive covenants found in the community’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“CCRs”). This question turns on whether the covenants restrict the property for residential use or for commercial use. The seminal Washington case on this issue is Wilkinson v. Chiwawa Communities Ass’n. 180 Wn.2d 241, 327 P.3d 614, 616 (2014).   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……………………………….
  • Cultivating Thankful Owners
    Community association board membership can be thankless and stressful work. Owners often do not appreciate their board because its work is not perceived or poorly understood.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Fair Housing Laws, Disabilities and Associations (WA)
    42 U.S.C. 3604 (Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act) applies to Homeowners’ Associations and Condominium Owners’ Associations. 42 U.S.C. 3604 states, in pertinent part:  It shall be unlawful … to discriminate against any person in … the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a handicap. … or the purposes of this subsection, discrimination includes … a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling…    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Residential Use Covenant Held to Take Precedence Over Zoning Authorization (WA)
    The Washington Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion concerning the use of real property earlier this month. The Court ruled that a subdivision’s restrictive covenant mandating residential use of property took precedence over a county’s authorization for an owner to use its property for nonresidential purposes.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Court Rules That Attorney Client Privilege Waived With Ghost Written Disclaimer Letter
    Two courts recently held that a disclaimer drafted by an insurer’s in-house or outside counsel and sent from the adjuster may constitute a waiver of the attorney client privilege.  In Canyon Estates Condo. Association v. Atain Specialty Ins. Co., No. 18-1761 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 22, 2020),), the court addressed the insured’s attempt to compel the production of unredacted copies of co-defendant, Great Lakes Insurance’s claim file.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Better a Dead Horse Than a Dead Claim (WA)
    I’m going to say it again: insurance claims have a relatively short limitations period. Most courts hold that an insured has two years after discovering property damage to bring a lawsuit against the insurer. There is often some confusion about what this means. The two year limitations period is NOT the time within which you must make a claim. That is the time to bring a lawsuit.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 3 Types of HOA Meetings – What’s the Difference? (WA)
    Meetings are integral parts of HOA management and aim to ensure successful community operations alongside harmonious living. They are an important and essential part of HOA governance. Homeowner associations operate as corporations and as a result, must regularly hold meetings involving board members and homeowners. In addition to holding regular board meetings throughout the year, two other very important meetings must take place as well: special meetings and annual meetings. So what is the difference between these different types of meetings?   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……………………………….
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