Washington Governor’s COVID-19 Order Restricts HOA Late Fees (but not Fines)

The coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, have changed many aspects of our lives in recent weeks months. One example are the steps taken by many state and local governments to protect renters from eviction during this time of unprecedented unemployment and business shutdowns. These protections have received a lot of media attention, as have temporary restrictions on foreclosures imposed by Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac as to mortgages subject to their regulations (contrary to popular belief, though, there is no general prohibition on foreclosures).

However, fewer people are aware that Washington homeowners associations or condominium owners associations (I’ll just use the term “HOA” from this point forward) are also affected. On April 17, Governor Inslee issued Proclamation 20-51, “Community Associations Meetings and Late Fees.”  This proclamation temporarily prohibits HOAs from imposing late fees and fines by making ineffective the portions of laws permitting those late fees and fines (See Update 3 below).

In other words, while the proclamation is in effect, no new late fees or fines can be assessed or collected. Violation of the proclamation may result in criminal penalties. Proclamation 20-51 is currently set to expire on May 17, 2020, but it is likely to be extended through much of 2020. UPDATE 1: By Proclamation 20-51.2, the expiration date has been extended through June 17, 2020. UPDATE 2: By Proclamation 20-51.3, the expiration date has been extended second time through July 1, 2020. UPDATE 3: There have been several extensions of Proclamation 20-51 since my last update to this post. On July 31, 2020, Governor Inslee issued Proclamation 20-51.6, extending the restrictions on late fees through September 1, 2020 and modifying the portions of certain statutes rendered ineffective by Proclamation 20-51. The effect of those modifications was to again allow fines to be imposed for violations other than late payment of assessments. On September 2, 2020, Governor Inslee issued Proclamation 20-51.7, extending the restrictions on late fees and fines through October 1, 2020. UPDATE 4: There have again been several updates of Proclamation 20-51 since my last update to this post. On January 19, 2021, Governor Inslee issued Proclamation 20-51.11 extending the restrictions on late fees indefinitely – “until the termination of the COVID-19 State of Emergency or until rescinded, whichever occurs first.”

Lucent Law represents HOAs of all types across Washington. If you would like to discuss how this proclamation impacts your HOA, please get in touch with us.

You can download a copy of Proclamation 20-51 here.  The most recent extension is here.

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A couple looking concerned about a late fee from their HOA

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