Washington HOA and COA Foreclosures

If you default on HOA or COA payments in Washington, the association may foreclose on your home.

If you live in a condominium, single-family house, or townhome that’s part of a common interest community in Washington, you are most likely responsible for paying dues and assessments to a condominium association (COA) or homeowners’ association (HOA). If you don’t pay, the COA or HOA can usually get a lien on your property that could lead to a foreclosure.

Read on to learn more about COA and HOA foreclosures in Washington.

How COA and HOA Liens Work

A COA or HOA typically has the power to place a lien on your property if you get behind in monthly dues or any special assessments (collectively referred to as “assessments”). Generally, once a homeowner defaults on assessments, a lien automatically attaches to that homeowner's property.

COA Liens

In Washington, a COA is entitled to a lien on a condo for any unpaid assessments from the time the assessment is due. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.34.364(1)). The recording of the COA’s governing documents—that is, the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws—in the county records constitutes record notice and perfection of the lien. The COA doesn't have to record the lien in the county records, although it can do so if it wants to. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.34.364(7)).

HOA Liens

If you are part of an HOA, check the association’s CC&Rs and bylaws to learn about the association’s right to place a lien on your home if you don’t pay the assessments.

Charges the COA or HOA May Include in the Lien

State law and the COA or HOA’s governing documents will usually set out the type of charges that the association may impose in addition to the past-due assessments. In Washington, a COA also has the power to impose:

  • late charges
  • fines for violations of the rules
  • costs
  • reasonable attorneys' fees, and
  • interest. (Wash. Rev. Code §§ 64.34.304(1)(k), 64.34.360(2), 64.34.364(13), (14)).

To find out which charges an HOA in Washington may include in its lien, check the association's governing documents.

Lien Priority

Lien priority determines what happens to other liens, mortgages, and lines of credit if a COA or HOA lien is foreclosed. (To learn more about lien priority and its importance in HOA foreclosures, see What happens to my mortgages if the HOA forecloses on its lien?)

In Washington, COA liens are prior to all other liens, except for:

  • liens and encumbrances recorded before the COA recorded the condo declaration
  • liens for real property taxes and other governmental assessments or charges, and
  • a mortgage on the condo that was recorded before the delinquency date of the assessment. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.34.364(2)).

To find out the priority of an HOA lien in Washington, check the association’s governing documents. Often, an HOA’s CC&Rs will state that an HOA lien is subordinate to a lender’s mortgage.

COA Super Liens

In some states, a lien for delinquent assessments has priority over a lender’s mortgage. This kind of lien is called a super lien.

In Washington, a COA is entitled to a super lien over mortgages recorded before the date that the assessment became delinquent in an amount equal to six months’ worth of delinquent common expense assessments. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.34.364(3)). This can be reduced by up to three months under certain circumstances and, if the COA elects to foreclose nonjudicially, it's not entitled to a super lien. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.34.364(4),(5)).

Requesting a Statement of Unpaid Assessments from a COA

If you make a written request to the COA, the association must provide you with a statement of the amount due within 15 days after receiving the request. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.34.364(15)).

COA and HOA Foreclosures in Washington

If you default on the assessments, the COA or HOA can foreclose. A common misconception is that the association can’t foreclose if you’re current with your mortgage payments. But an association’s right to foreclose has nothing to do with whether you're current on your home loan.

COA Foreclosures

In Washington, a COA lien may be foreclosed:

HOA Foreclosures

To find out about an HOA’s right to foreclose if you become delinquent in paying the assessments, read the association’s governing documents.

Statute of Limitations for COA Liens and Assessments

Unless the COA starts the foreclosure or sues the condo owner personally for payment within three years after the full amount of the assessments becomes due, a lien for unpaid assessments, as well as the condo owner’s personal liability for the assessments, will be extinguished. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.34.364(8)).

Talk to a Lawyer

If you’re behind in assessments and facing an HOA or COA foreclosure, consider consulting with an attorney licensed in Washington to discuss all legal options available in your particular circumstances.

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