Every two years, with the early snows of January, comes a trek to Salem by Oregon’s lawmakers for our bi-annual legislative session. For those who may be unaware, Oregon is increasingly unique in convening its legislature only every other year. What that usually means is a crush of issues which have been percolating during the last eighteen months, all sponsored by anxious legislators harangued by impatient constituents. This year is shaping up to be no different.
One of the ways that legislation often ends up going nowhere is the fundamental partisan disagreement between the House and the Senate if those two bodies are controlled by members of different parties. Fortunately, in Oregon we have a different situation occurring this session. With the Democrats in control of both the Senate and the House, it is unlikely that partisanship will be a reason that legislation does not move. For those of you who were around last session, you will know that the HOA related litigation which we had all hoped would move was caught up in this partisanship.
So here we are once again. The solution of the association’s right to bring lawsuits for construction defects in planned communities is proposed in a bill that simply clarifies that the definition of common property includes common maintenance obligations. Other legislative proposals attempt to coordinate the maintenance plan obligations of the association with establishing appropriate reserves.
A large bill which contains most of the “housekeeping” issues leftover from last session is also making its way through the legislature at this time. This bill does such things as allow associations to raise their insurance deductibles to meet modern industry standards, establish lower quorums in meeting where owner apathy would otherwise prevent business from taking place, creates opportunities for associations to use more electronic communications, and clarifies that unless a board member either votes in favor, against or vocally abstains from an action at a board meeting, such board member is deemed to have assented to the action.
We urge all who participate in Oregon’s planned community and condominium industry to continue to provide us with issues in our quest to improve the statutes related to common interest developments.
Finally, if you are interested, please check our website, where you will find links to legislative proposals, as well as copies of key briefs and other documents being prepared by VF Law LLP for its many clients.
- Richard Vial
Attorney at Law