August 11, 2014

King County Will Present Free Fair Housing Workshops in August and September

The King County Office of Civil Rights will present free fair housing workshops in Seattle on August 19 and September 17. The August workshop will discuss reasonable accommodations and modifications for residents with disabilities.  The September workshops will include an introduction to fair housing laws and a discussion of more advanced problems in this area. These workshops can help condominium and homeowners association boards understand and comply with the obligations imposed on them by those laws.  If you want to learn more, then please visit the Office's website

June 24, 2014

I Will Be a Panelist in a HOALeader.com Special Assessment Webinar on Thursday

HOALeader.com will be presenting a webinar about special assessments on Thursday, June 26, from 11:00 PST to 12:00 PST.  I will be one of the panelists in that webinar.  I look forward to providing insights about how to make the special assessment process as painless as possible and how to avoid it altogether if possible.  If you want to register for or learn more about this webinar, then please go to HOALeader.com's website.

May 30, 2014

California City Drops Nuisance Lawsuit Against Makers of Sriracha Hot Sauce

Sriracha hot sauce is great.  However, I would not want to live near a factory that makes it.  The recent news that a California city is discontinuing its nuisance lawsuit against the makers of Sriracha hot sauce was surprising after extremely intense pepper fumes were reported near the factory.  The decision was almost certainly influenced by the possibility that the factory could be moved to Texas.  Hopefully stronger filters will address the problem.     

Condominium and homeowners associations also sometimes find it necessary enforce real estate covenants that prohibit nuisances and other types of offensive behavior.  This is typically done through a combination of letters, fines, and lawsuits.  Due process procedures must be followed.  Associations should evaluate whether it is possible for owners to mitigate undesirable conditions to the extent that their desired uses of the property can continue.

April 30, 2014

Washington State HOAs Must Comply With New Law Regarding Meeting Minutes

Only one piece of state legislation directly affecting Washington state community associations became law in 2014.  This new law amends RCW 64.38, which is the state law that governs homeowners associations.  The new law adds the following language to RCW 64.38.035(1): 
    
"The association must make available to each owner of record for examination and copying minutes from the previous association meeting not more than sixty days after the meeting.  Minutes of the previous association meeting must be approved at the next association meeting in accordance with the association's governing documents."

The new law will take effect on June 12, 2014.  Washington state homeowners associations should make their meeting minutes available and approve them in accordance with the new law's requirements from that date forward.  

The new law does not relate to or bind Washington state condominium associations.

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.