HB 1636 is a bill that may not have a lot of attention right now, but it should. THIS is the bill that so many home owners across the state of Washington will WISH passed if it doesn’t. HB 1636 removes pre-existing communities from Washington state’s new 2018 law, WUCIOA. Pre existing communities should not be held to WUCIOA in any way, it isn’t fair to change the terms of existing home ownership by a state law. WUCIOA will harm Washington state’s most vulnerable in HOAs with burdening their budget with increased dues, and possibly lowering the market value of their property if dues increases are significant.
WUCIOA is a very complex law that sets many rules and guidelines for NEW common interest communities. WUCIOA only pertains to pre-existing communities in regards to their budget, and voting standards in order to approve that budget. According to WUCIOA an HOA’s dues are set by their budget. The budget is created by the HOA board, and must be voted on and approved by the membership. According to WUCIOA, if no members vote, the budget is approved. If 10% of the members vote, the 90% that don’t vote are counted as approving the budget. So, even if every single person that actually votes rejects the budget it does not matter because the 90% that didn’t vote are counted as approving the budget. In no other instance can I think of a voting standard that counts votes that are NOT CAST. This is certainly not a democratic way of voting. This standard is impossible, so essentially, the budget creates the dues without membership input.
How did HB 1636 come about?
HB 1636 was introduced by Representative Jeff Morris of district 40 . District 40 holds one of the state’s biggest home owner associations, Sudden Valley. Sudden Valley is a community of 3157 dues paying lots. Sudden Valley’s HOA made its members aware of the passing of WUCIOA late last spring, right after they voted in an $11 a month increase to fund what had been failed to be budgeted for the previous year. The board president cried tears of joy during this announcement. Sudden Valley’s first budget increased their dues 48%, from $86 to $127. It has been made clear by Sudden Valley’s board this is the first of many increases.
Who is watching the Board?
WUCIOA doesn’t put any checks or balances on the HOA boards. WUCIOA doesn’t make sure that the board is managing the money well, spending it where the members want it spent, fairly maintaining all parts of the community. WUCIOA has nothing in place to protect the members of the HOA regarding the spending of this budget. Maybe members can vote out boards that don’t follow their wishes, but maybe they can’t. Why not? Sometimes each member only gets replaced every 3 years so the board is never all up for replacement at once, sometimes a board will rally support from builders, vacant lot owners, other voters that will need the board to work with them in the near future. Sometimes the board will be more organized than busy home owners realized they needed to be. Plus, sometimes, a lot of damage can happen in a year or two ‘s time before home owners can organize to vote out board members.
Don’t home owners have rights?
When home owners buy their homes in an HOA they know they will always have to pay dues. They know they will always have to follow the rules and regulations of the HOA . When purchasing a home a buyer is given an opportunity to review the association’s rules, and if they don’t like them they can cancel their purchase. CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, & regulations) are attached to the deed of a property so they can’t be ignored, they are important. Real estate brokers will advise buyers to review the CC&Rs during their inspection period. WUCIOA supersedes what home owners agreed to when buying their property. Washington state home owners are now burdened with paying HOA fees that can skyrocket, or relocating and eating the cost of relocation. It isn’t right. Members of an HOA should retain the rights given to them in the CC&Rs for their neighborhood, the ones they agreed to prior to purchase.
Why I care about HB 1636
HB 1636 is something I personally worked with Representative Jeff Morris to create. As a real estate broker and a new resident of Washington state this is important to both my profession and my budget. I personally don’t want my HOAs board to have a blank check, but I also won’t encourage any buyer considering purchasing into an HOA community (or common interest community) and essentially providing that blank check to their board. I didn’t have the option to choose if a board could have control of my monthly dues because I did not know about WUCIOA when I bought, but all of the buyers I work with will know about it. How many will be comfortable trusting a volunteer board that has no training or screening before giving them a blank check?
People are hurting…for real
People live on budgets, especially lower income people. Many people buy into certain communities due to their affordability vs amenities within the community. This is certainly the case with many of my neighbors and friends in MY community. Others bought decades ago and are already struggling with property tax increases, and others have come across unexpected life events that makes the burden of a dues increase too much to bear. Whatever the reason it hurts Washington home owners is reason enough, WUCIOA oversteps.
What can I do???
Please support the passing of HB 1636 by contacting your legislative reps and letting them know you demand THEY support it.You can call your reps at 1-800-562-6000 or email them about this bill. Here is a link to make this easy. We don’t have time for you to consider this, we are very close to this bill being over looked and ignored. YOU MATTER. You really do. Please make sure you have a voice in this issue that affects so many Washington state home owners.