By Peter Abbarno
20th District Rep. R-Centralia
The Legislature addresses issues big and small; some exciting and others mundane. As the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce focuses the August Business Connections issue on real estate and property, I thought it would be important to also focus on the ‘lesser known’ new real property and real estate laws.
Real estate headlines over the past few years focused mostly on large policies that impacted a lot of residential and commercial property owners; like affordable housing and the Residential Landlord- Tenant Act. However, there were many lesser-known changes made to both residential and commercial property law that deserve the attention of local governments, developers, builders, and the real estate community. Here are some of those “did you know” changes that impact commercial and residential property.
Lewis County, and much of SW Washington, is familiar with the term ‘childcare desert’. This year, House Bill 1199 became law, which prohibits certain common interest communities (CIC), homeowners’ associations, and condominium communities from prohibiting and unreasonably restricting a licensed family home childcare or licensed child daycare center. An association may require the family home childcare or child day care to meet certain state standards, but not prohibit or unreasonably restrict. This will be of particular importance to associations with business restrictions in their rules and bylaws.
Also becoming law was House Bill 1042 prohibiting cities from imposing certain restrictions or requirements on existing building codes for commercial or mixed use. The policy states that beginning no later than six months after its next periodic comprehensive plan update, a city may not impose certain restrictions on existing buildings zoned for commercial or mixed-use, including density, parking, and design standards. In addition, a city may not deny a building permit application for new housing units in an existing building due to the nonconformity of the existing commercial/mixed-use structure including but not limited to parking, height, and setbacks. As cities begin to plan commercial and mixed uses zones, this will be an important change to consider.
Water bottle refilling stations are becoming more common around traditional drinking fountains. House Bill 1085 requires any construction after July 2026 where a drinking fountain is required under the Building Code to also require a bottle filling station. The bottle filling station can be a stand-alone station or part of the drinking fountain already required under the Building Code.
The Washington Supreme Court recently held in Commencement Bank v. Epic Solutions, Inc., that the lien priority statute only applies to construction loans and liens as opposed to being generally applicable to mortgages and deeds of trust. The court found that the placement of the lien priority statute in the chapter pertaining to mechanics’ liens indicates that the Legislature intended the provisions to apply only to construction loans. As a result of House Bill 1420, a new section is added to the chapter on foreclosure of mortgages and liens to provide that a mortgage or deed of trust has priority to all liens, mortgages, deeds of trust, and other encumbrances that have not been recorded before the recording of the mortgage or deed of trust. Rules that were in place prior to the Supreme Court decision are being codified into a broader applicable statute. The “first in time, first in right” principle will be more broadly established and would not have to rely on the courts to go to common law interpretations where there is a dispute regarding lien priorities.
For more information about new laws and proposed legislation, visit my legislative website at www. RepresentativePeterAbbarno. com
Rep. Peter Abbarno represents the 20th Legislative District and is an attorney with Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP.