2017 Legislative Update

Oregon and Washington law makers are in session. There are several proposed house and senate bills which impact condominium and homeowner associations. Here's a brief summary, along with links to review the language of the proposed legislation.


SB 470 - Would prohibit CC&Rs, Bylaws, or Articles of Incorporation from prohibiting or restricting certified family child care homes. Read bill.

HB 2722 - In the event of a drought or water shortage, a condominium association may not require owners to irrigate landscaped areas. Read bill.

HB 3056 - Associations often file lawsuits against delinquent owners. If the association receives a court judgment, this bill clarifies that the judgment does not operate to release or extinguish the lien on the owner’s property. Read bill.

HB 3057 - This bill adds criteria for a board of directors to use when updating or reviewing the association’s reserve study. In addition, the proposed legislation changes the timeframe for financial reviews from 180 days to 300 days. Read bill.

HB 3094 - The current laws governing the restatement of governing documents is vague. This bill clarifies the meaning of “restatement” and establishes requirements for the board to follow when preparing and recording a restatement. Read bill. 


SB 5134- This bill will give homeowners an objective timeframe of 45 days notice to be heard by the board of directors before the association may impose or collect charges for late payments of assessments. Read Bill.

SB 5250- Often times, it is very difficult for associations to obtain the required amount of votes to amend the bylaws due to non-participation. This law provides an alternative process for acquiring and counting votes to amend condominium bylaws.  Read Bill.



Oregon Legislative Alert

Portland Landlord/Tenant Ordinance 188219 Also known as the “relocation assistance” ordinance, the temporary measure mandates that if a landlord raises rent on a tenant by more than 10% or evicts a tenant without cause, the tenant can demand the landlord to reimburse them for up to $4500 in moving costs. Actual amounts vary depending on size and cost of the unit, and the neighborhood. Small-scale landlords who manage only one rental unit are exempt. The short-term measure took effect immediately on February 2 and is retroactive for tenants who had received a 90-day no-cause eviction notice within the last 89 days. The law is meant to provide temporary relief for up to 8 months as the city remains under its official housing crisis.

Oregon currently has a statewide ban on rent control. Opponents to the new ordinance claim the ban violates this law. Supporters argue that it’s an effective policy in reducing forced displacement. On March 2, the Oregon House began hearings for House Bill 2004— an expanded version of the city ordinance that allows cities to impose rent control and prohibits no-cause evictions except in certain circumstances.


See House Bill 2004

See Relocation Assistance Ordinance

The First Amendment and Community Associations

My 15 year old son often argues that I have no authority or control over his right to say what he pleases. His justification is that he has First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. He’s correct that he has First Amendment rights, but he’s wrong that the First Amendment applies in my home. The rights granted under the First Amendment prohibit government interference with free speech, the right to assemble, and the right to religious freedom.  But, you see, I am not the government and therefore not bound by the First Amendment.

For the most part, community associations are not bound by the First Amendment, either. CC&Rs and Bylaws often restrict owners’ rights to display signs, even political signs. In a well-known Pennsylvania case a unit owner wanted to place a “for sale” sign on the window of their condominium. The CC&Rs contained a “no sign” provision which the Association attempted to enforce.  The owner argued that the Association had no right to enforce the prohibition under the First Amendment. The Court held that the condominium is private property and that the Association’s enforcement of its CC&Rs was not state or governmental action. Thus, the First Amendment did not apply.

A few years ago the New Jersey courts decided perhaps the most significant case involving community associations and free speech. Owners at a condominium posted flyers in the common areas, which the Association quickly removed. The owners argued that the Association had no right to remove the flyers under the First Amendment. They also argued that the Association acted more as a municipality, since the community contained approximately 1 square mile of townhouses, single family homes, condominiums and commercial shopping and was home to about 10,000 residents.  That court ruled that "the minor restrictions on plaintiffs' expressional activities are not unreasonable or oppressive...," and that the association's rules didn't violate the freedom of speech and assembly clauses of the state constitution.

Some forms of expression are legislatively allowed regardless of the restrictions in the governing documents.  For example, the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act was adopted in 2005. This federal legislation prohibits homeowner associations from banning the installation or display of the American flag. The Washington Homeowners Association statute incorporates the federal law:

(1) The governing documents may not prohibit the outdoor display of the flag of the United States by an owner or resident on the owner's or resident's property if the flag is displayed in a manner consistent with federal flag display law, 4 U.S.C. Sec. 1 et seq. The governing documents may include reasonable rules and regulations, consistent with 4 U.S.C. Sec. 1 et seq., regarding the placement and manner of display of the flag of the United States. (RCW 64.38.030)

In addition, some states mandate that associations grant freedom of expression regardless of the contents of the governing documents. Arizona passed a law that community associations may not prohibit the indoor or outdoor display of a political sign within 45 days of an election and seven days after an election. However, associations may regulate the size and number of political signs as long as their rules aren't more restrictive than city or county ordinances.

Community associations should strike a balance between the restrictions governing the community and owner’s rights to speech and expression.  Here are some things to consider when adopting amendments or rules which may impact freedom of speech or expression:

  • Consult state statutes. State law may already provide the maximum restrictions allowed. If the state regulates political signs in community associations, the association's rules must be consistent with state law.
  • Review city and county ordinances. If state statutes or court decisions don't allow association regulations to be more restrictive than those imposed by local government officials, the board members must follow the local regulations.
  • Don't prohibit political signs without exception. If the association's regulations are reasonable, content neutral and consistently enforced, the board is more likely to avoid expensive litigation and preserve the delicate balance between the community's aesthetic values and individuals' free-speech rights.
  • Remind residents of sign rules prior to election season or when they become effective. Use the association newspaper, website, a letter or a community meeting to remind residents of the rules at least 15 to 30 days before signs may first be displayed.
  • Don't forcibly remove signs. This should be done only as a last resort.
  • Approach enforcement reasonably and in a way that encourages compliance rather than acrimony or litigation. Don't feel compelled to measure the size of everyone's yard signs. If a sign obviously violates the size restrictions, then proceed with enforcement.

Drone Registration

Last December the Federal Aviation Administration implemented a rule requiring the registration of small unmanned aircraft systems (drones). Under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Section 333, the Administration is authorized to adopt rules and regulations governing most forms of aircraft. Registration is required for all drones which weigh between .55lbs and 55lbs.  Most drones available for consumer purchase will fall within this requirement.  The individual registering the drone must be at least 13 years old and a US citizen. Failure to register your drone may result in civil and criminal penalties.

Drone owners may register here: https://registermyuas.faa.gov/

Community associations may want to consider the FAA registration when adopting rules or regulations governing the use of drones. For example, requiring homeowners who fly drones within the community to show verification of registration.

Drones in Community Associations

Drones are no longer exclusive to the military.  The prices continue to plummet and the technology has improved to allow even the not-so-tech-savvy consumer to easily pilot the flying devices.  But when drones land on the White House lawn or interfere with firefighting operations, public concern grows.

There are many practical uses for drones. Arial video and imagery are used by construction professionals, farmers, conservationists, and film makers. Most exciting: Amazon has announced that products will be delivered by drone in the near future.

But for many individuals, drones raise safety and privacy concerns. Federal laws impose some expectations and regulations on drone pilots.  For example, the FAA encourages recreational or hobby users to follow certain guidelines:

  • Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
  • Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
  • Don't fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
  • Don't fly near people or stadiums
  • Don't fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
  • Don't be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft

Oregon has adopted legislation governing the use of drones which may be used to regulate the flying of drones. ORS 837.380 allows property owners to sue a drone operator if (1) a drone has flown less than 400 feet above the owner’s property at least once; (2) the property owner has told the drone operator that they do not consent to the drone flying over their property, and; (3) the operator then flies the drone less than 400 feet above the property again. If these three conditions are met, the property owner can seek injunctive relief, “treble damages for any injury to the person or the property,” and attorney fees if the amount of damages is under $10,000.

What can community associations do to limit or regulate drones? The answer is: not much.  Some associations would like an all out ban.  Other associations have taken a more moderate approach, and amended the governing documents to allow the board to adopt rules and regulations which govern the flying of drones within the community.  This allows flexibility as technology changes and unanticipated uses arise. If the use of drones in your community creates a nuisance or violates other owner’s privacy, there may already be tools in your governing documents to handle those types of violations.

Stay tuned for a sample set of rules and regulations governing the use of drones in community associations.


Proposed Radio Antenna Legislation

A few months ago federal legislation was proposed relating to the installation and use of HAM radio antennas.  HR 1301 ("Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015") would override homeowner association CC&R provisions which prohibit the installation of HAM radio antennas or related equipment. The full text of the legislation is here.

Click here for Community Association Institute's position on the proposed legislation.