Condominiums and Multifamily Housing

Washington’s legislators had their eye on common interest communities (CICs) during the 2023 regular session, which ended on April 23, 2023. Three bills relating to or affecting CICs become effective on July 23, 2023. One became effective immediately. Here is a brief summary of the new laws.

HB 1337 – Accessory Dwelling Units. This bill amends the Growth Management Act to require cities and counties to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) within urban growth areas. It contains numerous requirements and exceptions. From a CIC developer’s perspective, the following requirements are important.

  • The city or county must allow at least two ADUs in any zone where single-family homes are allowed.
  • The city or county may not require the owner of the lot to reside in or occupy any unit on the lot.
  • The city or county may not prohibit the sale or conveyance of a condominium unit independently of a principal unit solely on the ground that the condominium unit was originally built as an ADU.

Many local ADU ordinances require the owner of the property to reside in one of the units. Some require common ownership of the units. Even without such restrictions, some have questioned the legality of separately selling an ADU and a principal residence since it would convert the “accessory” unit into a “principal” unit under the land use ordinance. This bill eliminates those issues by prohibiting cities or counties from requiring owner occupancy and by forcing cities and counties to allow the sale of ADU condominium units. The new law prohibits developers and homeowners from imposing any prohibition or restriction on ADUs that the city or county would be prohibited from imposing. (This does not invalidate existing CCRS.)

An international developer considering condominium projects in Washington should be abreast of the potential risks and liabilities arising from the Washington Condominium Act (“WCA”), which provides a broad array of warranty protections for condominium purchasers. The WCA has given rise to a significant increase in the number of construction defect lawsuits — a deterrent to

Recently, Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals issued an opinion providing guidance regarding the scope of Washington’s frivolous lien statute and the subtle intricacies of preparing and filing a construction lien against a condominium project.   This article provides a high-level overview of how to file a lien against a condominium project in Washington

On February 11, 2019, Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals issued an opinion in the case of Woodley v. Style Corp. d/b/a Servpro of Shoreline/Woodinville, No. 77352-6-I (Wash. Ct. App. Feb. 11, 2019).  The case highlights the care that should be exercised in filing a lien claim for services furnished to improve a condominium and the consequences that may befall a claimant under Washington’s frivolous lien claim statute, RCW 60.04.081.

The case arose from water intrusion at a unit in the Bellevue Park condominium complex. After discovery of the condition, the condominium’s property management company contacted Servpro and executed a work authorization for the contractor to clean up the water and perform restoration work.  Servpro was not paid for its work and filed a claim of lien.  The lien named the association as the indebted person, recited that it applied to the 20 specific units and a common storage area of the condominium, and named each owner of the 20 units but did not allocate a specific portion of the total debt to each unit.

The condominium embodies a missing price point in Seattle’s real estate market. As a result, we have noticed an uptick in the number of developers seeking legal advice regarding the potential risks associated with condominiums. In my first article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I provide an update on Washington’s condominium laws, a