April 2, 2010

Enhancing Your Association's Bylaws

A community association’s bylaws focus on procedure. The Washington Homeowners’ Associations Act and the Washington Condominium Act contain similar requirements regarding bylaws. Under both laws, bylaws must describe the number of board members and officers, their qualifications, their powers and duties, their terms of office, and the manner of their election and removal. Both laws also require bylaws to specify which, if any, of the Association’s powers the Board may delegate to a managing agent. The Washington Condominium Act (but not the Washington Homeowners’ Associations Act) also states that bylaws must include a statement of the applicable standard of care for officers and board members (ordinary and reasonable care for elected positions).

Some associations’ bylaws may impede good policies by imposing unduly burdensome procedural requirements. Associations may want to reduce quorum size, allow electronic notices, or allow voting by mail to facilitate action on issues that affect them. However, boards that are pursuing such changes should confirm that the proposed amendments to the bylaws are consistent with their associations’ declaration or covenants and state law. If they are not, then the amendments will be invalid.