The City of Chicago Shared Cost Sidewalk Program opens for applications at 12:00am on Tuesday (January 7th). Applicants can apply by calling 311 or creating a request online. 

The SCSP allows property owners to split the cost of needed sidewalk work with the city. Senior citizens and persons with disabilities are eligible to receive an additional discount. The application period closes quickly, so be sure to enter your request as early as possible on Tuesday morning.

Courtesy of Amy Peterselli, Attorney - Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit

1. What defines a hoarding situation?

Hoarding goes beyond normal clutter. It is a compulsion to accumulate items and an inability to discard them without distress.

You can identify a hoarding situation in residential units or garages in numerous ways. 

  • Visibly, a hoarding situation will present itself as stacks or piles of items. However, a unit owner who is hoarding can easily shield their unit from sight by closing doors and blinds and preventing others from entering.
  • Odor is another way to detect hoarding behavior. The smell of old food may emanate from the unit into hallways and nearby units.

2. Why is hoarding an Association issue?

Hoarding within an Association is a health and safety issue for all residents. Hoarding can create and mask structural and maintenance issues, attract and breed infestations of rodents and roaches, breed mold and bacteria, and become a fire hazard.

3. When should something be done?

Hoarding behavior should be addressed immediately to avoid health and safety hazards. If an association is aware of hoarding behavior and doesn’t take action, it can be liable for damage to surrounding units and health issues for neighboring residents.

4. How can an Association address a hoarding situation?

The Board has the authority to address hoarding unit owners if it is found that a hoarding situation is present and that the conditions are causing a safety issue. State and local Departments of Health and Human Services can assist in providing resources to the unit owner. Associations can also refer the hoarding unit owner to counseling. Finally, board members should be proactive to work with legal counsel to adopt rules addressing expectations regarding the condition of units, detail owner responsibility and outline steps to be taken if a unit owner is non-compliant.

Get help with a hoarding situation in your association.

To learn more, click here.

On Tuesday, June 25, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA) into law. The CRTA will take effect January 1, 2020. Here are some important things to know about cannabis in your condo building.

  • Illinois residents 21 years or older will be able to purchase up to: 30 grams of cannabis flower, edibles totaling 500mg of THC and/or five grams of concentrated THC products.
  • It is illegal to smoke or consume cannabis in a public place, in a motor vehicle, on school grounds, near an individual under 21 years of age, and near an on-duty school bus driver, police officer, firefighter or corrections officer.
  • Only an Illinois resident 21 years of age or older who is a registered qualifying patient under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act may cultivate cannabis plants, however a property owner or landlord may prohibit the cultivation of cannabis by a tenant.
  • Condo associations may prohibit or limit the smoking of cannabis within a unit owner's unit via their condominium instruments (declaration and bylaws) but may not otherwise restrict the consumption of cannabis by any other method within a unit owner's unit or the limited common elements.
  • Condo associations may restrict any form of consumption via their condominium instruments OR rules and regulations in the common elements.

For more information about Recreational Cananbis, see the following articles:

5 Things a Landlord Should Know About Recreational Cannabis in Illinois

The New “Reefer Madness”: Is Your Association Ready for the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana in Illinois?

Governing a condominium or HOA requires a great deal of documentation, including budgets, meeting minutes, owner info, voting records, insurance policies, and more.

Additionally, things like board turnover, unit owner issues, and liability highlight the importance of drafting and adhering to a record retention policy.

Certain records are mandated to be maintained by associations, but the length of time that they must be maintained for differs and it is important to keep those in mind.

To learn how long certain documents must be retained and how to create a record retention policy, click here.

2020 is around the corner. Does your 2020 budget reflect an increase to monthly assessments? If the answer is no, your may not be adequately planning for your operating expenses and funding your reserves for long-term needs.

Keeping dues flat is often seen as an indication that the board is doing a good job, but there are valid instances where raising dues could be the right decision for the long-term prosperity of the community.

When it comes to operating expenses, the budget should at least increase to keep up with inflation and rising costs for the services and amenities provided by dues. Incrementally raising dues can help ensure a sufficient flow of funds into the operating budget in anticipation of those rising costs.

When it comes to reserve funds, industry sources cite that over 70% of community reserves are underfunded, primarily because monthly dues are not adequately allocated to the reserve budget. Incrementally raising dues to allocate adequate contributions to the reserve account allows the board to fund major expenses without imposing special assessments.

It is a challenging task for boards to strike the right balance between containing costs and enhancing communities. However, boards that realistically evaluate the state of their association’s finances are best able to manage their communities without financial surprises.

Learn more here.

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