Every year the city of Chicago sets money aside to partner with property owners and repair their damaged sidewalks. Your condo association can get its sidewalks fixed at a discount. The Shared Cost Sidewalk Program charges much less than a private contractor would, and elderly and disabled property owners may qualify for additional discounts. This year, the city will begin accepting applications via 311 or the city’s website at midnight on Tuesday, January 10. Demand for the program is always very high, so if you are interested, be sure to apply right away.
If you are unable to participate in the program, problematic sidewalks can be reported at any time to the 47th Ward Office of 311.
Owners will often ask the board of directors to help them resolve disputes with neighbors. The board is sometimes required to step in when any violation of rules or regulations have occurred. However, the board will usually try to avoid being involved, and will recommend those involved resolve the conflict among themselves.
A new rule adopted by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development made it mandatory for associations to resolve disputes if it involves any discriminatory conduct by owners/occupants.
Prohibited discriminatory acts, per the Fair Housing Act, involve negative treatment of others based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin, which are often called protected classes. Any association that allows or engages in these acts is liable for its conduct.
Since associations can now be held responsible for the actions of third parties, they must be more willing to step in during disputes and take sides in arguments where discriminatory conduct is evident.
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A 94-year-old woman recently lost a legal battle when she fought for her right to rent a condominium while she underwent medical treatments, despite the association’s rules. The association denied the request because she did not follow the rule that requires listing the unit for sale for a full year before choosing to lease.
The woman argued that the rehab was necessary due to a disability, and that she was entitled to reasonable accommodation under federal fair housing laws protecting individuals with disabilities. The judge's opinion was that the woman failed to show that the accommodation was necessary as a result of her disability rather than her financial situation. The association would have denied a similar request from someone who had to be away from their condo for other reasons.
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A condominium association board cannot prevent community tenants from keeping firearms on the grounds or in their homes. Trying to do so would overstep the board’s authority. The Supreme Court sees the right to keep a gun in a tenant’s home for reasons of self-defense as a fundamental right. Additionally, an association cannot put restrictions on any firearm that a tenant possesses, such as requiring it to be unloaded or specifying certain types of firearms that are allowed. However, carrying guns in a common area is more complicated and restrictions exist in these areas because they are not considered the tenants home.
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