New Legislation Reducing Liability for Condominium Defects Takes Effect
With concerns over affordable housing being a driving force, Senate Bill 5334 was passed earlier this year and just recently took effect. This new legislation has been celebrated by affordable housing proponents, developers, and homebuyers alike as it is expected to spur increased infill development, consistent with the Growth Management Act and local Comprehensive Plans. The legislation modifies sections of the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (WUCIOA), which is applicable to condominiums and other common interest communities created on or after July 1, 2018. Specifically, RCW 64.90.670 and RCW 64.90.410 are modified to reduce liability in construction and increase protections in management.
On the construction side, the implied warranties provided for in the construction of condominiums are modified to deter frivolous construction defect lawsuits. WUCIOA previously required that condominium units, common elements, and improvements be constructed in compliance with all laws then applicable to such improvements. That requirement has now been replaced with a requirement that condominium buildings be constructed in accordance with applicable building codes generally accepted in the State of Washington at the time of construction.
On the management side, officers and board members of common interest ownership associations are now provided with the same protections as those provided to officers and board members of nonprofit and mutual corporations under chapter 24.06 RCW.
These changes should encourage construction of condominiums and other common interest communities and promote housing affordability as they considerably reduce the liability exposure of new developments and association boards.