June 19, 2019

Washington Legislature Amends WUCIOA

The Washington Legislature recently approved a new law updating the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act ("WUCIOA"; RCW 64.90) in various ways. The most significant changes related to condominium liability.    

Under the new law, officers and board members of condominiums are entitled to the same immunity from liability that is available to officers and directors of nonprofit corporations.  The new law establishes that condominium developers' warranties to unit purchasers include construction in accordance with engineering and construction standards, including applicable building codes, generally accepted in the state of Washington at the time of construction.  It also provides that physical damage to the unit or common elements, material impairment of the performance of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, elevator, or similar building equipment, or an actual, unreasonable safety risk to the occupants of the condominium is a necessary element to establish breach of warranty.  

The new law takes effect on July 28, 2019.  The periodic enactment of state laws is one reason that condominium and homeowners associations should consider an ongoing relationship with an attorney who focuses on community association law.     

May 17, 2019

Washington Court of Appeals Affirms Covenant Enforcement Jurisdiction

The Washington Court of Appeals recently ruled in an unpublished opinion that a superior court had jurisdiction over a covenant enforcement lawsuit by a community association against a set of its owners.  The litigation concerned the owners' decision to build an addition to their deck on their property without the approval of the association's architectural control committee as required by the association's covenants.  The superior court entered a judgment for the association that awarded over $200,000 in attorney fees, noting that it had original jurisdiction over actions for enforcement of covenants under Article 4, Section 6 of the Washington Constitution.   

April 15, 2019

Court of Appeals Upholds Condominium Association's Collection Action

The Washington Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of a condominium association in an assessment collection dispute.  The Court affirmed the association's power to levy regular and special assessments for common expenses and its perfected lien on the unit.  It noted that the owner was not entitled under the association's bylaws to notice or an opportunity to cure prior to the referral of the assessment debt to an attorney for collection.  The Court finally rejected the owner's argument that summary judgment was inappropriate because she disputed the amount owed, pointing out that "she admits to owing money to the Association, and the Washington Condominium Act creates a lien for assessments that can be foreclosed on for any past due amount owed by a unit owner."             

March 18, 2019

Parking and Storage Litigation Resolved in Favor of Condominium Association

The Washington Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of a condominium association in an unpublished opinion concerning the ownership of parking spaces and storage areas.  An owner came to believe that certain parking spaces and storage areas were appurtenant to his units.  The trial court concluded on summary judgment that the owner did not have a valid legal claim to those parking spaces and storage areas, and it went on to sanction the owner and his attorneys for filing a frivolous and meritless lawsuit.  The appellate court affirmed those decisions, noting that the owner was not able to demonstrate that an assignment of the relevant parking spaces and storage areas had ever occurred.                  

February 6, 2019

Failure to Prevent Transfer of Tree Debris Does Not Support a Nuisance Action

A married couple brought a nuisance action against their neighbors because debris from a tree on the latter's property caused staining on the former's property.  The trial court ruled that the married couple did not establish actionable nuisance (an unreasonable interference with another's use and enjoyment of property), and the Court of Appeals recently affirmed that ruling in an unpublished opinion.  The Court pointed out that a number of other courts, including the Washington Supreme Court in 1921(!), have indicated in past related cases that the failure of a landowner to prevent the blowing or dropping of leaves, branches, and sap from a healthy tree located wholly on his or her property onto a neighbor's property does not constitute a nuisance.