November 9, 2012

How Does the Washington Condominium Act Describe Unit Boundaries?

Condominium boards need to know where the boundaries between units and the rest of the property are located.  The section of the Washington Condominium Act entitled "Unit boundaries" provides a fairly straightforward description of those boundaries: 

"Except as provided by the declaration, the walls, floors, or ceilings are the boundaries of a unit, and all lath, furring, wallboard, plasterboard, plaster, paneling, tiles, wallpaper, paint, finished flooring, and any other materials constituting any part of the finished surfaces thereof are a part of the unit, and all other portions of the walls, floors, or ceilings are a part of the common elements." RCW 64.34.204(1) (emphasis mine)

This section goes on to indicate that porches, balconies, patios, exterior doors, and exterior windows are limited common elements allocated to the adjacent units (except as provided by the declaration).

Since condominium declarations are explicitly permitted to deviate from the Act with regard to boundaries, it is prudent for condominium boards to determine whether their declarations establish different boundaries than the ones described in the Act.  This can have major consequences when repairs and related assessments are necessary.  Attorneys can help boards quickly obtain a clear understanding of this crucial issue.