May 5, 2016

Legal Challenge to Amendment Restricting Leasing Held Untimely By WA High Court

The Washington Supreme Court recently unanimously ruled that a legal challenge to a recorded condominium declaration amendment restricting leasing was barred by a one-year statute of limitation in the Washington Condominium Act.  

A condominium declaration amendment received board approval, received at least sixty-seven percent owner approval, and was recorded.  A person bought a unit subject to that amendment and then argued in a lawsuit over four years later that the amendment required ninety percent owner approval (based on a different subsection of the WCA) because it changed the uses to which units were restricted. The Washington Supreme Court responded that "it is not immediately apparent which vote total was needed to approve the amendment" and that the legislature "may well wish to clarify" the WCA with regard to whether the definition of "use" includes the leasing of a unit.  However, the Court also noted that the amendment was voidable (rather than void from its inception, as in the case of fraud) from a legal perspective due to the process by which it was approved.  The Court therefore held that a one-year time bar for challenges to amendments in the WCA applied to this challenge regardless of the required approval percentage.  The Court concluded that "[t]o hold otherwise would render the time bar meaningless." 

Happy Cinco de Mayo to those WCA condominium associations that recorded declaration amendments restricting leasing with at least sixty-seven percent owner approval more than one year ago.