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WA neighborhood covenants

Coupeville, WA |

Property owners in my WA neighborhood own property in common which is maintained by a homeowners association, incorporated in 1978. The neighborhood is also covered by a set of convenants - or, rather, more than one set, which is what leads to my question. The orginal 1978 covenants were for some reason written to expire after ten years if not renewed. They weren't. A period of several years passed with effectively no covenants in force. Once the expiration was noticed, property owners were asked to voluntarily sign up for the same convenants, this time without expiration. I'll call these the "old" covenants. In 1994 an attempt was made to get everybody to sign up for a new, updated (but very similar) set of covenants. Many property owners did. We call these the "new" convenants. The result was (is) some properties with old, some with new, some with no covenants at all. Both old and new are recorded with the county. The new convenants are written to apply to all "real property held, sold, conveyed and occupied" within the boundaries of the neighborhood. My question is, what happens when properties are sold or new properties created (via short plat)? In either case, would the most recent ("new") covenants apply to a property that changes hands? Or would the status of the property as belonging to old/new/no convenants stay the same with a change in ownership? What about a new property created via short plat?

Correction: the basics are right but some my dates were wrong. While the association wasn't incorporated untili 1978, the original covenants were in place in 1964 and expired on 1/1/75. Both "old" (1964 version, now made perpetual) and "new" covenants were recorded in 1994.

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Attorney answers 1


That is quite the question...generally, property can not be bound by rules that owners have not accepted unless there is some agreement/ document which makes them have to accept the new rules. The usual situation is a homeowners association which has CCR's (Covanants, Conditions and Resrictions) or a Declaration of rules...and then everyone is bound by those rules because they purchased with notice and knowledge of those rules - and they are usually bound by changes to those rules which are created via the rules in the CCR's. Here, the first question would be if the original owners are somehow bound to accept rules which expired and then were put back in place - even if a particular owner did not vote for the new rules. That is possible, but not probable. At first glance, it is more likely that those who did not accept the old/new rules would not be bound by them. So, their property could change hands without being bound by the rules - though they might want to disclose the possibility that they could be bound by them. This is a rather complicated question dealing with a number of attorney familiar with association rules and real property laws probably should be brought in to take a look at the situation...I would think it might be in the best interest of the Association to get a definite answer/ opinion on this issue because this sounds like litagation waiting to happen.