“Probate” has become a word mixed with mystery and distrust. As a consequence, one of the statements I hear most often from my clients is, “I/we want to avoid probate”. The fear of this word has led many people to invest in expensive, overly complicated trusts, change their account ownership, transfer title to their homes …read more

Adopting A Homeowners’ Bill Of Rights

Planned communities, whether Condominium or single-family-residence in make-up, can establish what is referred to as a “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights”. The purpose of such a Bill of Rights is to place limitations on the power of Association and its Board to dictate life styles and activities within the community and to better protect current and …read more

Association Voting Procedures For Adopting Budget And Fixing Assessments

In many Associations (both condominium and non-condominium communities) there is uncertainty, and sometimes major conflict, over the proper procedure by which annual Association budgets and assessments are adopted. The following questions arise: A. Regarding The Budget (Expenses): – Do the owners have the right to vote on the budget OR can the Board of Directors …read more


An issue that frequently arises in Condominium and Single Family Residence (“SFR”) planned communities is whether the rental of the units/homes can be prohibited or restricted. While there are still some unanswered questions regarding this issue in the State of Washington, the following legal principles should provide some helpful guidance: 1. In General. Any new …read more

Legal Responsibilities of Association Board Members & Their Potential Liability

Board Members of community Associations, just like corporate directors, are held to a legal standard of care in their conduct and decisions while serving on the Board. This standard of care applies in relation to the Association Members whom they represent. You will sometimes hear this standard described as a “fiduciary duty” (1). That description, …read more

Associations Should Be Incorporated

The vast majority of Associations are incorporated as nonprofit corporations. There are some Associations, however, that are not incorporated. This may be due to oversight or may be intentional in the case of some single-family residence Associations (“HOAs”) and some pre-1990 condominium Associations (“COAs”). COAs formed after 1990 are required by state law to be …read more

Is There A Statute Of Limitations Applicable To Addressing Violations Of CCRs?

I have Association clients whose (usually newer) Board members have decided to enforce their CCRs to resolve longstanding violations. They have asked me whether there is a “Statute Of Limitations” that might bar covenant enforcement action after a certain number of years have passed. While there is a 6-year Statute Of Limitations from date of …read more

Wrongful Death Claims – The Loss Of A Loved One

A serious injury caused by the carelessness or recklessness of another person is a terrible thing, but the untimely death of family member or loved one at the hands of negligent stranger represents a truly horrific loss and a tragedy of the very highest order. In the aftermath of such a loss, the decedent’s grieving …read more

COA Lien Foreclosure Eliminates Prior Mortgage Lien

The foreclosure of Condominium Owners Association (“COA”) assessment liens can under some circumstances remove and eliminate a prior mortgage lien. In two recent Washington State Court of Appeals decisions the Court ruled that the COAs in those cases that had foreclosed their comparatively small assessment liens against a condominium unit had the effect of eliminating …read more

How To Interpret And Understand Community Covenants (“CCRs”)

Association Boards (both Condominium and Single Family Residence communities) frequently struggle to understand the provisions of the CCRs that apply to their community.  This particularly arises in the context of regulating questionable member activities and uses and the construction of improvements on member property. The particular CCRs provision in question was likely drafted by the …read more