March 31, 2014

The Association's Attorney Should Be A Good Listener

I was recently interviewed by a condominium association board that wanted to replace the association's attorney.  During that interview, one board member made a startling comment.  She remarked that, in her opinion, the association's attorney did not listen to the board.  The attorney urged the board to file lawsuits against owners even after the board made it clear that it wanted to pursue other methods.  Another board member darkly observed that the attorney would certainly make more money if the recommended litigation was pursued.  The board was pleased to learn that my office emphasizes enforcement and collection methods that do not involve litigation.  The board was also pleased to learn that I was willing to implement its desired course of action.

Lawsuits should only be filed as a last resort.  They are expensive, they take months to resolve, and they destroy relationships.  Associations' interests are best served when they work with attorneys who have both the expertise to win lawsuits when necessary and the wisdom to avoid them whenever possible. 

An association's attorney is there to help the board understand its options and to implement the option selected by the board.  It is a problem if the attorney-client relationship is more like a monologue than a dialogue. If your Washington condominium or homeowners association is looking for an attorney who is a good listener, then it should consider contacting my office.

February 20, 2014

Can a Condominium's Common Parking Spaces Be Reserved for Board Use?

I was recently interviewed by regarding the proper use of common parking spaces at a condominium.  In the resulting article, I discuss how board members who vote to reserve common parking spaces for their own use could be found to be engaging in self-dealing and abuse of authority.  Board members are entrusted with a great deal of power, and they are obligated to exercise that power for the good of the community.  Using that power to benefit themselves is almost always a bad idea.  

If a board wants common parking spaces to be reserved for its members, then the safest course of action is to submit that matter to the owners for a vote. An attorney can help the board identify the correct voting procedure and approval standard.

February 13, 2014

Paralegal Stephanie Chapman Has Joined My Office!

A quality paralegal can be an immense help to a busy attorney.  I am therefore happy to announce that paralegal Stephanie Chapman has joined my office.  Stephanie graduated from the University of Washington in 2006 and earned a paralegal certification from Edmonds Community College in 2012.  She performed office administration services at a law firm that focuses on condominium law from 2009 until 2013.  I look forward to working with Stephanie to provide our Washington condominium and homeowners association clients with the tools they need to succeed.

January 31, 2014

Seattle Seahawks Demonstrate the Power of Teamwork

The Seattle Seahawks' magnificent run to the Super Bowl has been propelled by its dominant defense.  When I took my sons to a game at the Clink this year, we were dazzled by how well their defensive players worked together to cover the field.  If a receiver got past a player, then there was almost always another player right there to assist him.  The defense played as a single entity rather than a collection of individuals.  It was teamwork at the highest level.

Washington condominium and homeowners associations should remember that their success often depends on whether their boards, property managers, attorneys, and accountants function as effective teams.  This requires each member of the team to have certain skills, to understand their role, and to be given an opportunity to excel.  When effective association teams are in place, legal obligations will be fulfilled and the common good will be promoted.  When defective teams are in place, the situation can get ugly in a hurry.  Association boards should seek to cultivate a direct relationship with each member of their team in order to make optimal use of their expertise and in order to evaluate their effectiveness over time.

Go Hawks!       

December 26, 2013

Recent Articles Discuss Rental Enforcement and Reserve Withdrawals

I was privileged to be quoted in two recent articles at  In the first article, I discuss how Washington condominium associations are increasingly using online sources to enforce their rental restrictions when there is evidence of short-term leasing.  In the second article, I discuss how Washington condominium and homeowners associations must follow certain rules when they withdraw reserve funds to address unforeseen or unbudgeted costs.  These articles also contain insights from attorneys in other states regarding those issues.