November 30, 2015

Court's Decision Compels Condominiums to Evaluate Validity of Leasing Restrictions

Condominiums created on or before July 1, 1990 are governed by the Washington Horizontal Property Regimes Act.  The Washington Condominium Act (WCA) governs condominiums created after July 1, 1990.  Under the WCA, a condominium declaration may be amended by the vote or agreement of owners to which at least 67 percent of the votes are allocated.  However, the WCA also requires the vote or agreement of a special supermajority (each unit particularly affected and the owners of units to which 90 percent of the votes are allocated) if an amendment changes "the uses to which any unit is restricted."  

The Washington Supreme Court recently decided in a unanimous published opinion that a WCA condominium's declaration amendment restricting the leasing of units was invalid because an insufficient number of owners (67 percent) approved it.  The Court first pointed out that leasing is identified as a use of a unit in the condominium's declaration.  It next noted that WCA condominiums must obtain special supermajority approval in order to amend their declarations to change the uses to which any unit is restricted. The Court concluded that this condominium's declaration required it to obtain special supermajority approval in order to amend its declaration to restrict leasing.  The amendment at issue was held to be invalid because such approval was not received. 

Many WCA condominiums' declarations identify leasing as a use of a unit.  Those condominiums' declaration amendments restricting leasing are invalid if they were not approved by a special supermajority.  Our office is here to help if your condominium association has questions about the validity of an existing declaration amendment that restricts leasing or about the necessary approval percentage for a new declaration amendment that restricts leasing.