The Washington Legislature in 2018 enacted a comprehensive set of new statutes governing Homeowners’ Associations (“HOAs”) and condominium owners’ associations (“COAs”). This new legislation is entitled the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (“WUCIOA”), and it became effective July 1, 2018. The new legislation is intended to clarify issues and resolve uncertainties that existed under prior law, which consisted of one set of statutes for COAs and a different set of statutes for HOAs.
This new legislation is based upon the national Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act that was developed by a team of attorneys and other professionals involved in association-related work.
While the new legislation significantly changes Washington law in many respects, it will not apply to the majority of existing Associations (and their planned communities). That is because it specifically exempts smaller communities with 12 or few units that have annual assessments of less than $300.00 per unit from most of its provisions. Additionally, all HOAs and COAs that were already in existence on July 1, 2018 will continue to be governed (at least primarily) by the prior HOA or COA statutes (RCW 64.34 or RCW 64.38) and their existing governing documents unless those communities amend their governing documents to specifically opt to be governed by the new 2018 HOA/COA legislation.
Still, certain provisions of the new legislation will apply to all planned communities and HOAs/COAs regardless of when they were created and regardless of whether they vote to be governed by the new legislation. The universally applicable provisions include §120 that sets forth the process to amend the governing documents to subject the community to the new legislation. §120 requires a minimum 67% vote (of a 30% quorum) to subject the community to the new legislation.
Additionally, the budget provisions of WUCIOA §326 are applicable to all existing HOAs and COAs. §326 replaces RCW 64.34.308 (3) and (4) of the prior Washington Condominium Act and RCW § 64.38.025 (3) and (4) of the prior Homeowner’s Association Act. It (a) requires the Board to provide a copy and summary of the proposed budget to all owners, (b) sets a date for the owners to vote on the budget, which date is 14 to 50 days after the budget has been provided to the owners, and (c) provides that the proposed budget is adopted unless the majority of all owners vote to reject it. Accordingly, the budget may be adopted even if there is no quorum present at the general meeting to vote on it. §326 also sets forth the specific information a budget summary must contain.
For those HOA and COAs subject to the 2018 legislation, there are many new provisions that should be reviewed and understood in order to comply with its requirements. There will be a learning curve involved for all HOAs and COAs subject to the new legislation and the attorneys who advise them. Some of the major changes under the new legislation relate to requirements and procedures applicable to HOA/COA records, restrictions on the use of houses/units, Board meetings, the use of electronic notices to owners, Board decisions made without an actual meeting, the makeup and operation of HOA/COA committees and the collection and priority of Association liens. There are many other changes as well. The 2018 legislation is quite comprehensive in scope.
If HOA/COA Board members or owners have questions or concerns regarding the governance and operation of your Association under either the new or the prior legislation (that remains in effect for many Associations), please do not hesitate to contact our firm. We can help. r