While the foreclosure crisis has slowed down and most condo buildings have stabilized, many associations continue to face foreclosures. If there are owners in your building in foreclosure who are also delinquent on assessments, it's important for your association to understand what must be done to minimize financial loss.

When a condo owner forecloses, the balance on that owner is wiped clean, and the bank becomes responsible for assessments going forward. However, IL condo law allows the association to collect a portion of that owner's unpaid balance if certain legal actions are taken before the foreclosure concludes. The condo association can collect unpaid assessments charged in the six months prior to taking legal collection action, plus the legal fees and costs associated with that action, from the third party purchaser of the unit at the judicial sale or after foreclosure.

Though the timeline for a foreclosure to be completed is affected by a number of factors, in general you can expect a foreclosure to conclude within about a year of the initial filing. If your association gets notice of a foreclosure and the owner is delinquent on assessments, you'll need to take action during that time.

Haus Financial Services can help your association to create an Action Plan for addressing foreclosures on owners with delinquent accounts. Contact us today!

The community living aspect of condominium ownership brings with it a huge potential for conflict. Conflict can occur between owners, between the board and owners, and even between board members. And while conflict is as inevitable in condo living as it is in all areas of life, it can be managed successfully with the right approach.

Often, conflict is the result of differences in how people live and an inability to come to an amicable compromise. In our experience, it is often helpful to bring a third party into the conflict to help both sides come to a workable resolution. Using a mediator can help your association to minimize legal bills and time in court, which can often inflame the problem and make living in your condo even more unpleasant.

The Center for Conflict Resolution in Chicago offers FREE mediation services that can help condo owners to better navigate their disagreements. Training services are also available for individuals looking to learn the skills of successful negotiation and compromise. Legal action is expensive - try a mediator first!

Many condominium associations are currently suffering from high rental rates. This is the result of underwater owners who cannot sell but have moved out of their units and foreclosures that have been bought up very cheaply by investors. It's not unusual to hear about small buildings with only a handful of owner occupants remaining. This can make condo living especially challenging for those owners. 

Imposing caps on leasing in your association is one way to preserve owner occupancy rates. Condo attorneys have generally advised that an amendment to the association's Declaration is the best way to ensure the enforceability of rental caps. However, an amendment requires a positive vote of a super majority of owners (often 2/3), and if that majority is already renting, they are unlikely to vote for a cap. 

A board may be able to work around an amendment and impose rental caps through Rules & Regulations, which are only voted in by the board, if their Declaration  specifically includes language allowing for the creation of rules and regulations related to leasing. 

A court opinion last February addressed the issue of rental restrictions via Rules & Regs. An owner sued the association for attempting to evict his tenant, as the association had Rules & Regs in place restricting rentals to 30% of units. However, because the association's Declaration did not include language allowing the board to establish restrictions on leasing, the owner prevailed. The court held that in order to impose any further restrictions on leasing, the association would have to amend the Declaration. Creating Rules & Regs was not a legally viable way to impose leasing restrictions because it was not expressly allowed by the Declaration.

Key takeaway.... Before giving up on restricting leasing because too many owners are already renting, check your Declaration! It may grant the right of the board to impose leasing restrictions via Rules & Regs, thereby circumventing an owner vote on an amendment.

You can read more about this case here. Understanding the hierarchy of authority of an association's governing documents can also help you to navigate many legal questions. 

Unfortunately, what happens in a condo unit doesn't always stay in a condo unit. Smoke (among other nuisances) can travel easily between walls and through the common elements to other units.

Owners cannot be stopped from smoking in their units unless the association adopts an amendment to the declaration or bylaws to prohibit smoking. This requires owner approval and can take time and money to pass but it is a viable solution for buildings who can muster the necessary number of votes. When an amendment is not possible, the board can adopt rules to help prevent smoke from travelling between units.

Read more about this topic in a recent Chicago Tribune article

In Chicago, condominium associations are governed by the Illinois Condominium Property Act. Section 22.1 of the ICPA contains provisions regarding the information that must be disclosed to prospective purchasers of units within the association.  

Click here for an article providing an overview of the disclosures provided in Illinois by a condominium association to a prospective buyer of a unit and (1) what is mandated by law; (2) what current practice is; (3) associations’ and board members’ exposures to claims for failure to comply; and (4) action needed to remedy the ills that exist in the market today.

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