Welcome to the Condominium Law Group Blog!
Welcome to the newly minted Condominium Law Group, PLLC blog. We are the newest condo law blog in Washington State, and we are excited to provide our readers with valuable information in the field of community association law. Wait, community association law? What’s that? We think our first post is a great place to start walking you through the two main types of community associations and the laws that govern them in Washington State.
There are two main statutes in Washington State that govern condominiums. All condominiums formed before July 1, 1990 were formed under the Horizontal Property Regimes Act, which is codified in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) at Chapter 64.32. Otherwise known as the “Old Act,” this statute was the first condominium statute in Washington State.
What about condos formed after July 1, 1990? A new statute was adopted into law, and that statute is called the Condominium Act. The Condo Act, or “New Act,” is codified at RCW 64.34, and was modeled after the Uniform Condominium Act, which is a model statute adopted by about 17 states – with or without revisions by each state.
Be careful, though – many provisions of the New Act automatically apply to Old Act condos. Here’s how that works: with respect to events that take place after July 1, 1990, and only to the extent that they don’t invalidate or supersede existing, inconsistent provisions in the Declaration (see our recent post on Governing Documents), some portion of the New Act also apply to Old Act condos.
It may seem confusing, and it is. If you are a homeowner or board member at a condominium association, the best thing to do is to work with an attorney that is experienced in condominium law. It’s not enough to work with a real estate attorney, even if they are excellent at what they do. Condominium law is a highly specialized area of the law, and your association will be better served by a lawyer with experience in this field.
Homeowners’ Association Law
What if you live in a homeowners’ association (HOA) instead of a condominium? HOAs are an entirely different “beast.” They are governed by the very short Homeowners’ Associations Act, which is codified at RCW 64.38. Unfortunately, the HOA Act doesn’t really say very much about many of the issues that can come up in running an HOA. Fortunately, associations aren’t governed only by the laws they’re created under; they are also subject to their own governing documents, including the CC&Rs.
Other Community Types and Applicable Laws
There are other types of community associations that are not governed by the Old Act, the New Act, or the HOA Act. For example, co-ops have been around far longer than condominiums, and are generally governed by corporations law. In Washington, the applicable statute is the Non-Profit Corporations Act (RCW 24.03). This statue and other corporations statutes can also apply to condos and HOAs in some situations.
In addition, there are other federal and state laws that can apply to all community association types. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) governs what actions third-party debt collectors (such as your association attorney) can and cannot take when attempting to collect unpaid association dues from homeowners. The Fair Housing Act and federal regulations about satellite dishes are other examples.
As you can guess, there are many federal and state laws that may apply to specific issues facing your community association, and sometimes figuring out which ones are relevant is difficult. We’re glad you’ve found us and hope that this article, along with the other information on our blog, provides you with useful and valuable information. If you have any questions we can answer, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us directly. We look forward to continuing this conversation with you in our future posts!