Call to Action: Legislative Alert
Owners, managers and vendors to community associations have a stake in state laws that impact associations. The Washington State Legislature is in session and several bills affecting community associations have been introduced. New legislation can have a tremendous financial impact on the community association industry and your association in particular. Even if you live in or work exclusively with Oregon associations, you may want to keep reading as regional trends are common.
Here is a list of Washington State Bills that could impact community associations:
HB 1370 – Electronic notice of meetings
Summary: The bill would allow Washington HOA’s to provide electronic notice of association meetings. This a great idea, but we question whether electronic notice should be something owners “opt-in” to accept rather than “opt-out” as the bill is currently drafted. Oregon currently employs the “opt out” method and this doesn’t seem to pose a burden to associations in the state.
SB 5134 – Reserve Studies
Summary: The bill would exempt condominium associations with fewer than 50 units from the reserve study requirements. This seems like a bad idea. The reserve study statutes encourage associations to estimate the anticipated major maintenance, repair and replacement costs that are not included in the association’s annual budget. Reserve studies are basic good governance whether an association has 10, 30, 50 or 500 units.
PSSB 5075 – Homeowners’ association assessment increases
Summary: This bill would limit an Association’s authority to increase assessments. We do not support this bill because Associations need the ability to assess the actual costs of maintaining the property and setting aside reserves for future major maintenance, repair and replacement.
SB 5031 – Real Property Damage Actions
Summary: The statute of limitations for an action regarding waste or trespass upon real property or for injuring personal property is three years. Based on a 1977 Washington Supreme Court case, if property is damaged as a result of construction occurring on an adjacent property, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the construction project is substantially complete. This bill would make the statute of limitations run from the date the damage is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.
HB 1029 – Private Road Maintenance
Summary: This bill is intended to make easement holders responsible for a share of maintenance and repair costs related to their use of easements. This could be important to Associations with easements for roads, sidewalks or other rights to cross over another’s land. The bill is being worked on to try and addresses several concerns.
SB 5083 – Political yard signs
Summary: Under current law, the governing documents of a homeowners' association may not prohibit the outdoor display of political yard signs by an owner or resident before primary or general elections. This law would extend the prohibition to any public elections.
SB 5113 – Enforcement of speed limits on roads within condo associations
Summary: This bill would allow law enforcement to enforce speeding violations on private roads in condominium associations so long as certain requirements are met.
As legislative bills are drafted, re-drafted and amended, the ultimate step may be for community members to become involved in the legislative process through contacting their representative and provide feedback on how certain legislation would impact their community.
If you don’t know who your state representatives are, use this link and find out today: