Reserve Studies - The Complete Guide is 436 pages explaining the concepts and process for making a reserve study. For more information and to order, click here.

 

 

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State of Washington

The state of Washington has adopted specific statutes related to reserve studies. State statute 64.34.380 recently adopted the following legislation:

(1) An association is encouraged to establish a reserve account to fund major maintenance, repair, and replacement of common elements, including limited common elements that will require major maintenance, repair, or replacement within thirty years. A reserve account shall be established in the name of the association. The board of directors is responsible for administering the reserve account.

(2) Unless doing so would impose an unreasonable hardship, an association shall prepare and update a reserve study, in accordance with the association's governing documents and RCW 64.34.224(1). The initial reserve study must be based upon a visual site inspection conducted by a reserve study professional.

(3) Unless doing so would impose an unreasonable hardship, the association shall update the reserve study annually. At least every three years, an updated reserve study must be prepared and based upon a visual site inspection conducted by a reserve study professional.

Common industry practice is that homeowners associations should perform periodic reserve studies as a prudent business practice.  Directors of associations are generally held to a “prudent businessman” rule in determining whether or not they have met the fiduciary duty of their position for the association.  A prudent businessman would establish a capital replacement budget (reserve study) to make sure he is generating enough revenues (reserve assessments) to provide for major repairs and replacements.

There is little discussion about whether an association should perform a reserve study.  The only significant areas of discussion revolve around how frequently a reserve study should be performed, and if there should be any minimum funding requirements.  Most states that have reserve study statutes require physical site inspections on 3 or 5 year cycles.  We believe that 5 years is too long.  3 years may be too long if significant reserve expenditures are being made during the subject time period.  However, the association should perform an update without site inspection every year as part of the annual budget process.

Full text of law follows:

RCW 64.34.380 - Reserve account — Reserve study — Annual update.

(1) An association is encouraged to establish a reserve account with a financial institution to fund major maintenance, repair, and replacement of common elements, including limited common elements that will require major maintenance, repair, or replacement within thirty years. If the association establishes a reserve account, the account must be in the name of the association. The board of directors is responsible for administering the reserve account.

(2) Unless doing so would impose an unreasonable hardship, an association with significant assets shall prepare and update a reserve study, in accordance with the association's governing documents and RCW 64.34.224(1). The initial reserve study must be based upon a visual site inspection conducted by a reserve study professional.

(3) Unless doing so would impose an unreasonable hardship, the association shall update the reserve study annually. At least every three years, an updated reserve study must be prepared and based upon a visual site inspection conducted by a reserve study professional.

(4) This section and RCW 64.34.382 through 64.34.392 apply to condominiums governed by chapter 64.32 RCW or this chapter and intended in whole or in part for residential purposes. These sections do not apply to condominiums consisting solely of units that are restricted in the declaration to nonresidential use. An association's governing documents may contain stricter requirements.

RCW 64.34.382 - Reserve study — Contents.

(1) A reserve study as described in RCW 64.34.380 is supplemental to the association's operating and maintenance budget. In preparing a reserve study, the association shall estimate the anticipated major maintenance, repair, and replacement costs, whose infrequent and significant nature make them impractical to be included in an annual budget.

(2) A reserve study must include:
(a) A reserve component list, including roofing, painting, paving, decks, siding, plumbing, windows, and any other reserve component that would cost more than one percent of the annual budget for major maintenance, repair, or replacement. If one of these reserve components is not included in the reserve study, the study should provide commentary explaining the basis for its exclusion. The study must also include quantities and estimates for the useful life of each reserve component, remaining useful life of each reserve component, and current repair and replacement cost for each component;
(b) The date of the study and a statement that the study meets the requirements of this section;
(c) The following level of reserve study performed:
(i) Level I: Full reserve study funding analysis and plan;
(ii) Level II: Update with visual site inspection; or
(iii) Level III: Update with no visual site inspection;
(d) The association's reserve account balance;
(e) The percentage of the fully funded balance that the reserve account is funded;
(f) Special assessments already implemented or planned;
(g) Interest and inflation assumptions;
(h) Current reserve account contribution rate;
(i) A recommended reserve account contribution rate, a contribution rate for a full funding plan to achieve one hundred percent fully funded reserves by the end of the thirty-year study period, a baseline funding plan to maintain the reserve balance above zero throughout the thirty-year study period without special assessments, and a contribution rate recommended by a reserve study professional;
(j) A projected reserve account balance for thirty years and a funding plan to pay for projected costs from those reserves without reliance on future unplanned special assessments; and
(k) A statement on whether the reserve study was prepared with the assistance of a reserve study professional.

(3) A reserve study shall include the following disclosure:

"This reserve study should be reviewed carefully. It may not include all common and limited common element components that will require major maintenance, repair, or replacement in future years, and may not include regular contributions to a reserve account for the cost of such maintenance, repair, or replacement. The failure to include a component in a reserve study, or to provide contributions to a reserve account for a component, may, under some circumstances, require you to pay on demand as a special assessment your share of common expenses for the cost of major maintenance, repair, or replacement of a reserve component."

RCW 64.34.384 - Reserve account — Withdrawals.

An association may withdraw funds from its reserve account to pay for unforeseen or unbudgeted costs that are unrelated to maintenance, repair, or replacement of the reserve components. The board of directors shall record any such withdrawal in the minute books of the association, cause notice of any such withdrawal to be hand delivered or sent prepaid by first-class United States mail to the mailing address of each unit or to any other mailing address designated in writing by the unit owner, and adopt a repayment schedule not to exceed twenty-four months unless it determines that repayment within twenty-four months would impose an unreasonable burden on the unit owners. Payment for major maintenance, repair, or replacement of the reserve components out of cycle with the reserve study projections or not included in the reserve study may be made from the reserve account without meeting the notification or repayment requirements under this section.

RCW 64.34.386 - Reserve study — Demand by owners — Study not timely prepared.

(1) Where more than three years have passed since the date of the last reserve study prepared by a reserve study professional, the owners of the units to which at least twenty percent of the votes are allocated may demand, in writing, to the association that the cost of a reserve study be included in the next budget and that the study be obtained by the end of that budget year. The written demand must refer to this section. The board of directors shall, upon receipt of the written demand, provide unit owners making the demand reasonable assurance that the board of directors will include a reserve study in the next budget and, if the budget is not rejected by the owners, will arrange for the completion of a reserve study.

(2) In the event a written demand is made and a reserve study is not timely prepared, a court may order specific performance and award reasonable attorneys' fees to the prevailing party in any legal action brought to enforce this section. An association may assert unreasonable hardship as an affirmative defense in any action brought against it under this section. Without limiting this affirmative defense, an unreasonable hardship exists where the cost of preparing a reserve study would exceed ten percent of the association's annual budget.

(3) A unit owner's duty to pay for common expenses shall not be excused because of the association's failure to comply with this section or RCW 64.34.382 through 64.34.390. A budget ratified by the unit owners under RCW 64.34.308(3) may not be invalidated because of the association's failure to comply with this section or RCW 64.34.382 through 64.34.390.

RCW 64.34.388 - Reserve study — Decision making.

Subject to RCW 64.34.386, the decisions relating to the preparation and updating of a reserve study must be made by the board of directors of the association in the exercise of the reasonable discretion of the board. Such decisions must include whether a reserve study will be prepared or updated, and whether the assistance of a reserve study professional will be utilized.

RCW 64.34.390 - Reserve study — Reserve account — Immunity from liability.

Monetary damages or any other liability may not be awarded against or imposed upon the association, the officers or board of directors of the association, or those persons who may have provided advice or assistance to the association or its officers or directors, for failure to: Establish a reserve account; have a current reserve study prepared or updated in accordance with RCW 64.34.380 through 64.34.388; or make the reserve disclosures in accordance with RCW 64.34.382 and 64.34.410(1)(oo) and 64.34.425(1)(s).

RCW 64.34.392 - Reserve account and study — Exemption — Disclosure.

(1) A condominium association with ten or fewer unit owners is not required to follow the requirements under RCW 64.34.380 through 64.34.390 if two-thirds of the owners agree to exempt the association from the requirements.

(2) The unit owners must agree to maintain an exemption under subsection (1) of this section by a two-thirds vote every three years.

(3) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2) of this section, a disclosure that the condominium association does not have a reserve study must be included in a unit's public offering statement as required under RCW 64.34.410 or resale certificate as required under RCW 64.34.425.

 

Additional State Reserve Study Laws