WSHB Partner Tim Repass testified in front of the Washington State Senate Law & Justice Committee on June 13, 2018, in a work session on Washington Condominium Act (WCA) liability. The building industry in Washington has been taking aim at the current WCA for years, primarily focusing on what are deemed to be unfair and uncertain standards under the statute’s implied warranties. "We hear vigorous discussions about the need for affordable housing for first-time buyers and opportunity for renters to start building equity, much of which points towards condominiums as a solution," said Tim Repass. "Unfortunately, many developers are fearful of entering the market due to the ease and frequency by which the plaintiff bar targets condominiums, fueled by the current statutory scheme in Washington State." The current statute has lead to near-certain litigation for all condominium buildings, even if no real defects exist. Builders and developers want to see the current law changed to provide for a better liability standard, to increase development and housing options, which the Seattle area desperately needs.
Repass discussed his experience on the front lines of the application of the Condominium Act in the courts, litigating on behalf of developers and general contractors, stating that the statute provides an unreasonably low standard of liability. Specifically, he discussed that the implied warranties allow for construction defect allegations that do not affect building performance, and which no reasonable construction professional would say constitutes a defect of concern. Repass argued for changes to the Condominium Act’s implied warranties including a better definition of "construction defect." As for the real-world effect, he explained how the current legal landscape works as a disincentive to condominium development, which in turn has resulted in a shortage of inventory in this important segment in the housing market. You can view the Senate Committee work session testimony here.