Who Pays?

It is important to remember that not every Association responsibility is paid for as a common expense. Both Washington and Oregon statutes provide that common expenses may, in certain circumstances, be assessed against fewer than all owners. Governing documents may also require that expenses associated with the limited common elements must be assessed to the unit or units to which those limited common elements are assigned. Many owners do not realize this. They assume that any work performed by the Association is paid for as a common expense and thus shared by all of the owners.
The assessment of common or limited common expenses against fewer than all owners is one of those red button issues that should not be taken lightly. Sometimes the statutes and governing documents do not leave any discretion and fewer than all owners must be assessed. Complicating the issue, we often find governing documents that purport to grant greater authority and discretion than is supported by the statutes, especially in Washington. Just remember, if owners receive a completely unexpected assessment, the reaction will not be pleasant regardless of the assessments validity and never take lightly the question: Who pays?

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