May 31, 2012

Washington Supreme Court Invalidates Foreclosure Due to Violation of State Law

The Washington Supreme Court recently held in Albice v. Premier Mortgage Services of Washington, Inc. that a failure to comply with a statutory requirement relating to the timing of a non-judicial foreclosure sale invalidated that sale.  According to RCW 61.24.040(6), a trustee may continue a sale only up to 120 days from the original sale date.  The sale in this case was invalid because it took place 161 days from the original sale date.
Washington condominium and homeowners associations also face judicial scrutiny if they fail to comply with all applicable statutory requirements relating to their foreclosures.  Association boards should strive to make their foreclosures above reproach from a procedural standpoint.  Consulting with an experienced community association attorney on a regular basis is the best way to achieve that goal.

May 17, 2012

Restrictions on Smoking Should Be Handled With Care

The King County Council is currently considering a proposal to prohibit smoking in the busiest areas of county parks.  If that proposal is adopted, King County will join the hundreds of other local governments around the country which have restricted smoking in public parks. Washington condominium and homeowners associations have an analogous authority to ban smoking in their common areas unless their governing documents specifically provide otherwise.  However, those associations’ boards must first adopt and publish rules to that effect in accordance with applicable procedures.

Smoking within the units of a condominium can only be restricted by amending that condominium’s declaration.  This requires obtaining the approval of a super-majority of the owners in accordance with applicable procedures.  Boards should be prepared for intense opposition to anti-smoking amendments.  They should also be aware that litigation is occasionally necessary to establish the validity of those amendments.

Condominium and homeowners associations that want to restrict smoking should seek legal advice in advance from attorneys with the expertise to help them achieve that goal in a legally defensible manner.  Failing to do so could be hazardous to their health.