Glossary Of Terms

Glossary Of Terms

DISCLAIMER: This glossary is provided to give the nonlawyer the general idea of what is meant by the various terms. The definitions are not intended to be legally significant, comprehensive or exhaustive. Where statutory references are made, they are provided as examples only. Actual legal definitions may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
RCW 64.50
The Notice and Opportunity to Cure Statute requiring notices to construction professionals of claims, lists of known defects and notice to homeowners. RCW 64.50

Sums chargeable by the association against a unit including regular and special assessments for common expenses, charges and fines imposed by an association. For condos, assessments can include late fees, costs and attorneys fees incurred by the association in collecting on delinquent accounts. See, for example, RCW 64.34.020(3)


Referring to the Board of Directors of an homeowners association or condominium. The Board is the governing body with primary authority to manage the affairs of the association.


For condominiums, the primary content of the bylaws are determined by statute and must include things like the number and election of board members, methods of amending the bylaws, and statement of the standard of care of a board member. In practice, the bylaws often include other provisions such as voting and notice provisions. When the terms of the bylaws are in conflict with a declaration, the declaration will control over the bylaws.

Building Enclosure
Generally, the exterior of a building including roofs, and sometimes including decks, patios or other exterior features of a building. RCW 64.50 defines building enclosure as “[T]hat part of any building, above or below grade, that physically separates the outside or exterior environment from interior environments and which weatherproofs, waterproofs, or otherwise protects the building or its components from water or moisture intrusion. Interior environments consist of both heated and unheated enclosed spaces. The building enclosure includes, but is not limited to, that portion of roofs, walls, balcony support columns, decks, windows, doors, vents, and other penetrations through exterior walls, which waterproof, weatherproof, or otherwise protect the building or its components from water or moisture intrusion.” RCW 64.50.010(2)
Building Envelope
See building enclosure.
Common Element
While common elements are often more specifically defined in the association’s declaration, Washington’s Condo Act defines them as all portions of a condominium other than units. RCW 64.34.020(6). The association generally has an obligation to maintain and repair common elements, the cost of which is shared among the unit owners through assessments.
A condominium is created by recording a declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions. Its characteristics may include multi-story buildings, townhomes or single family homes and can be indistinguishable from a planned unit development or other form of ownership. In the Washington Condo Act, it is defined as: “[R]eal property, portions of which are designated for separate ownership and the remainder of which is designated for common ownership solely by the owners of those portions.” RCW 64.34.020(9).
Condo Act

            Washington Condominium Act at RCW 64.34 et seq.

Oregon Condominium Act at ORS Chapter 100.

A conversion condominium is one in which the building or buildings originally existed with units that were rented (such as an apartment). Essentially, the apartments are “converted” into condominiums by filing a declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions and selling units. A conversion condominium declarant may or may not do any work to improve the apartments prior to converting them.
            Condominium Owners’ Association
CC&Rs stands for “covenants, conditions and restrictions.” Also used synonymously with “Declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions” or just “declaration.” The CC&Rs contain the conditions to ownership of the unit within the owners’ association, whether it be a condo or single family home, that burden the ownership of the property or “run with the land.”
Generally, the declarant is the person or entity that created the condominium by filing the declaration or that created the HOA. It is defined more specifically in the Washington Condo Act, RCW 64.34.020(13). The declarant is sometimes used interchangeably with the “developer” although they are not always synonymous.
Declarant Control
The period of declarant control is defined as the period of time in which the declarant has the right to appoint board members of the association. In a Washington Condominium, this period generally terminates upon the sale of 75% of the units in the condominium. See RCW 64.34.020(14) and 64.34.308.

Short name for “declaration of conditions, covenants and restrictions,” sometimes referred to as the CC&Rs. The recording of the declaration is what creates a condominium.

Governing Documents
The governing documents of a condo or home owners’ association include the Declaration (CC&Rs), the Bylaws and any Rules and Regulations.
Homeowners’ association that governs a planned unit development or other series of single family homes. While both condos and single family homes can have homeowners’ associations, HOA is often used in contrast to a condominium owners’ association or COA to mean a non-condo homeowners association.  HOAs in Washington are controlled by the Homeowners’ Association Act at RCW 64.38 et seq.
Implied Warranties
The term “implied warranties” is often used synonymously with statutory warranties, though there are other warranties that can be implied by contractFor example, the Washington Condo Act provides implied warranties of quality that a declarant of a condominium warrants that the improvements made or contracted for by that declarant will be 1) free from defective materials; 2) constructed in accordance with sound engineering and construction standards; 3) constructed in a workmanlike manner; and 4) constructed in compliance with all laws then applicable to such improvements. See RCW 64.34.445(2).
Limited Common Element
Limited common elements are often defined more specifically by the declaration, but generally, they are those common elements allocated for the exclusive use of one or more, but fewer than all of the unit owners. See RCW 64.34.020(22).
Master Association

Sometimes condominiums are created using master and sub associations. For example, there may be both a residential condominium and a commercial condominium created by the same declarant and on one site. In that case, there may be a master condominium that includes them both, the declaration for which would govern them both.


Public Offering Statement

In Washington, the public offering statement is a document that is prepared by the declarant for the original purchasers of condominium units. It must contain certain statutory disclosures found in RCW 64.34.410 and 64.34.415. Failure to provide a public offering statement results in penalties to the declarant.

Special Assessment
 A special assessment is an assessment that is levied for a particular purpose beyond that contemplated by the common expenses that make up the associations’ budget. In Washington, a condominium board generally has the authority to levy a special assessment, subject to the ratification of the entire association, but the ratification is presumed unless
Special Meeting
Any meeting of the association (unit owners) or board that is not a regularly scheduled meeting is a special meeting. Generally, the only regular meeting for unit owners is the annual meeting, so all other meetings are special meetings. Special meetings often have special notice requirements
Sub association
In a condominium, there may be a master association and one or more sub associations. Sub associations are subject to the terms of both the master association declaration and sub association declarations.
The term “unit” can be used generically to refer to each person’s house in an HOA, but it has a specific meaning with regard to condos. In Washington, a condominium unit is the physical portion of the condominium designated for separate ownership. While declarations may differ as to the physical definition of a unit (a unit can be defined as “everything from the sheetrock in” to an “airspace” unit that includes the entire home and yard and areas above and below the physical home), a unit owner owns is generally responsible for maintenance and repair of his or her own unit.


This glossary is provided

DISCLAIMER: This glossary is provided to give the nonlawyer the general idea of what is meant by the various terms. The definitions are not intended to be legally significant, comprehensive or exhaustive. Where statutory references are made, they are provided as examples only. Actual legal definitions may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top