October 31, 2018

WA Court: HOAs May Record Liens Without Providing Owners With Notice and Hearing

Happy Halloween!  Collecting past due assessments can certainly be scary sometimes. After one homeowners association recorded a lien on a delinquent property and obtained a judgment against its owners, they appealed to the Washington Court of Appeals.  The court ruled that the association was permitted to record the lien without providing the owners with notice and an opportunity to be heard.  

The court first pointed out that Washington law only requires homeowners associations to provide owners with notice and an opportunity to be heard before they impose fines for violating the governing documents and otherwise grants those associations discretion to establish their procedures within their governing documents. Since the governing documents of the association allow it to record a lien for delinquent assessments without notice and an opportunity to be heard, the court ruled that it may do so. The court concluded by noting that the owners were not deprived of their right to due process because the lien was based on a binding contractual agreement between them and the association (the recorded covenants).

September 28, 2018

Condominium and Homeowners Association Budgets Must be Ratified

It's community association budget season!  Due to the recent implementation of WUCIOA (see my previous post about that here), all Washington State condominium and homeowners association budgets must be ratified by those associations' owners in order to take effect.  In order to comply with this requirement, associations must provide each proposed budget to the owners and schedule a meeting to consider ratification of that budget.  Budgets are considered ratified unless the owners of units to which a majority of the votes in the association are allocated reject the budget.

If your board has questions or concerns about compliance with state law or governing documents, then my office is here to help!  

August 23, 2018

Appeals Court Rules Owners Entitled to Attorney Fees in Dispute with Neighbors

Matthew and Rachel Milcic sued John and Anne Estes for damages and other relief after the Estes cut branches off their trees, built an encroaching fence, painted the words "PULL YOUR WEEDS!" on the Milcics' side of the fence, and placed unwanted fill dirt on the Milcics' property. The trial court granted partial summary judgment for the Milcics on their causes of action (nuisance, timber trespass, spite fence, and damage to land or property). Following a trial on damages, the court awarded the Milcics some, but not all, of their requested damages and denied their request for an award of attorney fees. The Milcics appealed the court's damages award and attorney fee denial. In a recent unpublished opinion, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that the Milcics were entitled to an award of some of their attorney fees and costs.

Damages for trespassing and nuisance may include lost enjoyment of the use of property, but the trial court declined to award the Milcics damages relating to those claims because it decided that any damage to their land and property was minimal. However, RCW 4.24.630 states that "[e]very person who goes onto the land of another and who removes timber ... from the land, or wrongfully causes waste or injury to the land, or wrongfully injures personal property or improvements to the real estate on the land, is liable to the injured party for treble the amount of the damages caused by the removal, waste, or injury .... In addition, the party is liable for reimbursing the injured party for the party's reasonable costs, including but not limited to investigative costs and reasonable attorneys' fees and other litigation-related costs." The appellate court concluded that the Milcics were entitled to some of their attorney fees and costs under this statute due to the fence encroachments committed by the Estes.