Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
401 Union Street, Suite 1500
Seattle, WA 98101-2668
206.464.4224
Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
401 Union Street, Suite 1500
Seattle, WA 98101-2668
206.464.4224

Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
401 Union Street, Suite 1500
Seattle, WA 98101-2668
206.464.4224

News & Articles

HOAs Beware! Recently Passed Bill Changes the Governance of Common Interest Communities in Washington State

Published April 19, 2024

Governor Jay Inslee recently signed into law Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5796 (the “Act”), which will significantly change the creation and governance of all homeowners associations (“HOAs”) and “common interest communities” moving forward. While most of the Act goes into effect on June 6, 2024, a bulk of the major changes will go into effect on January 1, 2028. At that time, the Act will repeal the four statutes governing common interest communities established before July 1, 2018.  The goal is to harmonize the creation and management of all such communities statewide. This update has the potential to alter governance and administration in Washington, particularly impacting older communities.

What does the Act affect?

The Act affects common interest communities, which include plat communities (commonly called “subdivisions,” or colloquially “neighborhoods”), condominiums, and cooperatives. The Act primarily amends the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act, chapter 64.90 RCW (called “WUCIOA”), but also has significant effects on other statutes, which will be discussed below.

What is WUCIOA, and is my community governed by it?

WUCIOA is the statutory scheme that has regulated the creation and governance of common interest communities in Washington since 2018. If your community was formed on or after July 1, 2018, then your community was likely formed under WUCIOA, and WUCIOA likely continues to regulate the governance of your community, with few exceptions.

My community was formed before July 1, 2018. Which statute applies to it?

While WUCIOA has been in effect since July 1, 2018, common interest communities formed before that date have generally continued to be governed by the statute under which they were created. For example, a condominium formed under the Condominium Act, chapter 64.34 RCW, between July 1, 1990, and June 30, 2018, for the most part, continued to be governed by the Condominium Act, except for a few provisions under WUCIOA that superseded and controlled over the Condominium Act. In addition to the Condominium Act, other possibly applicable statutes included the Land Development Act (chapter 58.19 RCW), the Horizontal Property Regimes Act (chapter 64.32 RCW), and the statutory scheme governing HOAs (chapter 64.38 RCW), which provided for a confusing mix of statutes that was challenging to reconcile.

Notably, the Act repeals those four statutes in their entireties, effective January 1, 2028. Thus, the Act may significantly change the governance and administration of common interest communities in Washington, with its most drastic effects applying to older communities. The Act provides for the arguably necessary harmonization of the creation and administration of all common interest communities in Washington. In essence, all common interest communities, regardless of when they were created, will be subject to WUCIOA beginning January 1, 2028 (or earlier, if a community “opts-in,” which is discussed below).

When does the Act go into effect?

Most of the Act’s provisions go into effect on June 6, 2024. However, as referenced earlier, the repeal of the Land Development Act (chapter 58.19 RCW), the Horizontal Property Regimes Act (chapter 64.32 RCW), Condominium Act (chapter 64.34 RCW), and the statute governing HOAs (chapter 64.38 RCW), becomes effective on January 1, 2028, thus providing for an approximately three-and-a-half-year transition period for common interest communities previously subject to those statutes.

I am on the Board of Directors for an HOA governing a community formed before July 1, 2018. What should our HOA do?

The Act most significantly affects common interest communities formed before July 1, 2018. As mentioned previously, common interest communities formed before July 1, 2018, will be governed by WUCIOA beginning on January 1, 2028. Following that date, in general, if a provision contained within that community’s governing documents is inconsistent with WUCIOA, then that provision will be invalid and the conflicting provision in WUCIOA will control. Therefore, common interest communities must become familiar with the provisions of WUCIOA by January 1, 2028, at the latest.

Alternatively, the Act gives the option for common interest communities not currently subject to WUCIOA the option to get ahead of the curve and amend their governing documents to conform to the requirements of WUCIOA before January 1, 2028. The Act provides a clear, straightforward procedure for adopting such an amendment to the governing documents, which procedure would supersede and control over any procedure already existing in that community’s governing documents.

I am on the Board of Directors for an HOA governing a community formed later than July 1, 2018. Does the Act require our HOA to do anything?

HOAs that govern communities formed on or after July 1, 2018, likely do not need to amend their governing documents. While most of the Act’s provisions go into effect on June 6, 2024, these changes are primarily modernizing amendments. For example, the Act adds new sections to WUCIOA clarifying that unit owners cannot acquire title by adverse possession or an easement by prescription over the common elements in a community, and providing for a procedure for HOA boards to take formal action during an “emergency” situation. Nonetheless, even boards of newer HOAs may wish to consult an attorney to learn about how the Act may facilitate the governance of their HOA.

For questions, please contact any member of our Real Estate, Development & Finance group at Ryan Swanson.

This article is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.






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