January 2, 2018

Washington Condo Associations Do Not Have Lien Priority Over Existing HOAs

The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed last month that a condominium association's lien for assessments was not entitled to statutory priority over similar assessments made pursuant to the covenants of an existing homeowners association within which the condominium was organized.  It based that decision on an exception to lien priority found in RCW 64.34.364(2)(a) for encumbrances on property before the recording of the declaration.  The appellate court concluded that the homeowners association's covenants are encumbrances because they consist of "restrictions that diminish the value of the condominium."  It affirmed the trial court's award of attorney fees to the homeowners association and awarded it appellate attorney fees as well.  

December 6, 2017

The Gift of Guidance

Happy Holidays!  If your condominium or homeowners association does not currently work with an attorney, consider giving it the gift of legal guidance in 2018.      

November 6, 2017

Washington Appellate Court: Condominium Bylaws Amendment Is Invalid

A recent Washington unpublished opinion concerned the amendment of a condominium association’s bylaws.  The condominium’s declaration stated that amending the bylaws required the approval of a majority of the unit owners.  The bylaws were amended in 2015 without the approval of a majority of the unit owners, and an owner challenged the validity of that amendment.  The Court of Appeals ruled that the bylaws amendment was invalid.

The invalid 2015 bylaws amendment authorized the condominium association to impose assessments for limited common area expenses against the individual unit owners to which the limited common areas were assigned.  Since the declaration and the applicable state law did not authorize the imposition of limited common area expense assessments, the Court of Appeals ruled that the association could not impose such assessments.

Washington condominium and homeowners associations should obtain legal advice before they seek to amend their governing documents.    

October 27, 2017

Halloween: A Scary Time for Seattle-Area Condos and HOAs (and Their Attorneys)

Each year, some Seattle-area condos and HOAs are compelled to enforce their governing documents in response to Halloween-related activities.  One common type of enforcement action relates to installation of decorations that pose a fire hazard or otherwise violate the governing documents.  Another common type of enforcement action relates to the vandalism and other acts of malicious mischief that sometimes occur on Halloween.  Community associations can impose fines in response to these types of activities if properly adopted and distributed fine schedules are in place.  If fines are contested, then associations should consider obtaining legal guidance. 

My law office is available to help Seattle-area condos and HOAs understand and enforce their governing documents.