Many small associations do not have regular annual elections as required by the IL Condo Act. Often, the same individuals end up serving on the board year after year. But having an annual election to educate owners and encourage them to get involved is always a good idea. Board members risk getting burnt out if they do not create an opportunity for other owners to take over.

If you are due for an election and need some guidance in how to prepare, Preparing for Your Condominium Association Election can help you to get started.  

Board members can also share our video on Board Responsibilities Made Easy to help owners understand the responsibilities of board members and election basics as well as the matters that the board handles versus those that owners have a right to vote on.

Association board members often disagree, but conflict can interfere with a board’s ability to function effectively. Conflicts should never be allowed to get to the point where they stop critical decision making, adversely affect building systems or an owner’s property values. 

Techniques to encourage a positive, productive board environment include:

  1. Establishing specific goals, timetables, and priorities
  2. Preventing discussions from becoming personal
  3. Distributing accurate information to all board members and unit owners
  4. Setting up fact-finding committees to obtain information
  5. Using independent experts to provide technical information

To learn more about these techniques and about managing conflict, click here.

The Common Interest Community Association Act and the Condominium Property Act were recently amended in 2017 to provide that the board may close any portion of a meeting for which notice was given or meet separately from the board meeting to:

  1. Discuss probable or pending litigation
  2. Discuss third-party contracts or information regarding appointment, engagement, or dismissal of an employee, independent contractor, agent, or other providers of goods and services
  3. Interview a potential employee, independent contractor, agent or other providers of goods and services
  4. Discuss violations of the rules and regulations of the association
  5. Discuss a member’s or unit owner’s unpaid share of common expenses
  6. Consult with the association’s legal counsel

Of note here is that the board can meet for discussion, provided no votes are taken, to discuss matters outside of any formal meeting. It's advised that the board handle such discussions in person rather than over email in order to prevent a written record of the discussion. 

To learn more, click here.

HausFS has worked with condo associations and condo owners in and around Chicago for more than 10 years. In that time, we've discovered that most condo owners feel that condo living is really challenging, and further, that the problems they face are unique to their association, while condo living is a breeze for everyone else. Somehow, every other association has gotten the hang of it while they are struggling.

This is definitely not the case. Every association faces conflict and the fact is that many of the problems that arise are common from one association to another.

When we speak to prospects who are looking for management support, I often remark that condo living is tough. I even say that I don't think it should exist as a housing option because it is so complicated and causes so much stress. Almost immediately, the board member I'm speaking to breathes a sigh of relief. It's as if they are afraid to admit how hard it can be, because they assume they are the only ones who feel this way.

Rest assured, condo living is tough. But with the proper help, it can be infinitely better. Don't hesitate to get the support you need in the form of professionals who understand how you feel. You're not alone, and there is always a way to make condo living easier.

Lauren Peddinghaus, CMCA, AMS
Owner, Haus Financial Services, LLC

Bank fraud is not a pervasive problem for our small association clients here at HausFS, but it does happen on occasion. Fraud typically takes the form of unauthorized ACH debits or debit card charges.

Here are a few ways that condo board members can reduce the risk of fraudulent transactions and lost funds.

Do not allow the use of debit cards. We've said it before and we'll say it again. Debit cards provide easy access to your association's bank accounts. If a card is lost or stolen, funds can disappear easily. It's also not unusual for board members to mistakenly (or not mistakenly) use an association debit card for personal purchases.

Use online bill pay to pay contractors, not paper checks. When you issues a paper check to a contractor or vendor you don't use regularly, you've put your bank account information into that person's hands. They can now pull your bank account's routing and account number and use that information for unauthorized debits. When you use your bank's online bill pay, your account information is protected as most banks use a single funding account for this service that is not connected directly to your account and cannot be used for such fraud.

Look into ACH debit approval restrictions with your bank. Check to see if your bank has the option to restrict ACH debit transactions from unauthorized sources. You may be able to set preferences that allow for vendors like ComEd and AT&T to debit your account directly, but prevent any other company from doing so.  

Make sure that more than one board member has access to bank accounts and that they are reviewed regularly for any suspicious activity. The sooner any fraudulent transactions are discovered, the sooner you can take action to remedy the problem. It may be necessary to close out the existing bank accounts and open new ones to prevent further fraud.

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