January 14, 2020

WA Courts Rule that HOA Members Must Be Present in Person to Vote on Amendments

The Washington Court of Appeals recently upheld a trial court's ruling that a provision in a homeowners association's bylaws requiring owners to be "present" in order to vote on amendments to that document means that they must be present in person.  An owner argued that owners are also present if they vote by proxy, but the trial and appellate courts disagreed.  The appellate court noted that the word "present" in the bylaws must be given its usual meaning of "being in one place and not elsewhere: being in view or at hand."

This opinion demonstrates that the language in community associations' governing documents can sometimes be subject to different interpretations, which can lead to disputes and litigation.  Attorneys with experience in this area can help associations ensure that the contents of their governing documents are consistent with their desired polices and current practices.