Barker Martin

Condo-HOA Blog - Seattle Condo Attorneys


WSCAI's CA Day is coming up on September 24! Please come see Dave Silver and Alexis Ducich speak about how to turn defensible enforcement matters into indefensible collections actions, or join Dan Zimberoff and others to learn about unit water events and how to handle them. Barker Martin attorneys will be at the booth all day. We look forward to seeing you! read more

That's an Association Issue… or is it?

It is a common misconception that community associations assume complete and exclusive authority over all people, property, actions and grievances within their community. Sometimes it's an owner misconception that their clogged sink or running toilet is an association issue. Sometimes it's the pure neighbor vs. neighbor dispute. But sometimes, it can be more serious. I was reminded of this recently when (allegedly) one unit owner intentionally threw a rock threw their neighbor's window while verbally harassing the occupants. Local law enforcement was called and decided… it was an association issue. Think about that for a minute. There was probably, almost certainly, a violation of the Association's governing documents but there was also a crime committed. A crime is no less a crime when committed within a community association and those best trained and suited to address such activity are law enforcement – not board members or homeowners and not the association manager. It's important that community association volunteers and service providers remain cognizant of this fact for the safety of everyone involved. Safety is of paramount importance but it's also important to consider the liability you assume if you do take on the role of "law enforcement." As legal counsel, we often help Associations evaluate their authority, options and obligations in difficult situations and, when needed, we're here to be their advocate. read more

Birds Chirping, Felix Pitching and Boards Changing

Spring is finally here! Along with the change in season come longer days, warmer weather, baseball (how about them Mariners!) and community association board elections. If you are a board member, or manager, of an association with a newly constituted board of directors you have an opportunity to take a simple step that will set up your community for success in the coming year. It is a one-time action that is guaranteed to continue to pay dividends for at least the next 12 months. Best of all, the process costs nothing (other than 3 – 4 hours of time). What is this magical elixir? A board retreat. I know what you're thinking, "Huh, we have monthly board meetings, why would we take time for yet another "bored" meeting?" Because this meeting is a workshop designed to set the vision, direction and goal of the board for the next 12 months. The board will designate three or four specific objectives to accomplish for the upcoming year, which will result in proactive, focused and results-oriented leadership. A board has numerous ways to set the agenda for the retreat. Here is one suggestion: • Create a vision/mission statement that is relevant to your community. • Use your vision/mission statement to identify and determine the validity of tasks taken on by the board. • Set specific short term and long term goals to be completed in the coming year (be focused—don't overreach). • Develop an annual agenda, parsing out the short term and long term goals to be completed throughout the year. • Determine if committees can be helpful. • Assign a single person to be responsible for each item with agreed upon reporting and communication protocols. Monthly board meetings can then follow the vision and plan established at the retreat, which results in focused and accountable management of the association. Annual retreats/workshops are a proven tool for success in the business and non-profit worlds that can work in community association governance. They are a no-cost, high yield instrument for success. With a season of change and transformation in the air, now is the time for your association to schedule and conduct a board workshop. read more

Making and Deciding Motions

Earlier this year, Barker Martin released the Practical Guide to Community Association Meetings. We have received some great feedback on what a useful resource the guide is proving to be for association boards. If would like a complimentary copy of the guide please contact our office by clicking here. This week's email highlights a section of the meetings guide and here is an excerpt from Chapter 5 on making and deciding motions. Making and Deciding Motions There are generally four potential motions for each item of business: (1) motion to adopt a specific action; (2) motion to table an item to decide at a later date; (3) motion to make a friendly amendment; or (4) motion to remove an item from consideration. Circumstances will determine the appropriate type of motion. The board is limited to the discussion of one item of business at a time. The agenda should not include the specific wording of any motions to be considered as it may be a source the of confusion with owners. Motions on a specific topic will naturally and properly evolve during discussion by the board. After discussion, the presiding board member will call each motion presented to a vote. Although technically unnecessary, it is common practice for motions to be "seconded" by another attendee. Motions adopted by a majority of the board members present at a board meeting are deemed carried, provided a quorum is present. The fact that a motion has been adopted or has failed does not prevent the item from being added to the agenda to a future meeting. All motions may be reconsidered at a later time. However, if a motion is tabled, the board should be clear about why so that any issues preventing the motion from being voted on can be resolved and a clear timeline can be set for raising the motion again. This ensures that a motion is not raised again and discussed before it is ready. If, at a board meeting, a board member believes that a board action or motion is unlawful or contrary to the authority of the board, that board member may make an oral or written dissent explaining his or her reasons. The dissent should become part of the minutes. Motions may be withdrawn or modified in one of two ways: First, the original movant may modify or withdraw his or her own motion. Second, other board members may make their own motions that are modifications of another board member's motion. read more

Great News for Condo Homeowners

Great news for Washington Condominium owners! Filmore LLP v. Unit Owners Association of Centre Pointe Condominium, was accepted for review by the Washington Supreme Court yesterday! Our own Dan Zimberoff authored the amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Washington State Community Association Institute. Supplemental briefs of the parties will be due in early April and the court will set a hearing after that. A short synopsis of the devastating opinion from our prior blog is below. read more

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