April 21, 2023

Defendant in Covenant Violation Lawsuit Ruled to be Entitled to Attorney Fee Award

A recently issued court opinion in Washington state concerned a line of cypress trees near the boundary between two properties that allegedly blocked a view of sunsets and downtown Portland in violation of restrictive covenants on those properties. A significant issue was whether the plaintiffs were responsible to pay the attorney fees incurred by the successful defendants. The court ruled that both owners who violate covenants and owners who unsuccessfully pursue claims that other owners are violating covenants are liable to pay the other party's attorney fees. The court pointed out that "interpreting the CCRs to provide recovery for homeowner-versus-homeowner litigation encourages compliance and discourages spurious litigation among neighbors, which is consistent with the law's directive to interpret HOA covenants in a manner that supports all the owners' collective interests."