The Cook County Treasurer has released the first installment of 2017 property tax bills with a due date of March 1, 2018. This is an estimated tax bill; the amount due will be 55% of the prior year’s total tax. If you have a 2017 appeal pending you still need to pay this bill. Any change in the 2017 tax bill will be reflected on the second installment tax bill later this summer.

If you have a new Property Tax Index Number for 2017, your first installment tax bill will be zero. The entire tax bill for 2017 will be reflected and due on the second installment.

Harassment/Inappropriate behavior is a significant and growing problem in community association as the number of complaints about owners harassing board members, managers, maintenance staff, vendors, and sometimes other owners, rise every year. Human interactions in all areas have become less civilized. People are more inclined to shout their disagreements and less inclined to discuss them; they are more demanding and insistent on having their way and less tolerant of people who don’t give them what they want or think they are entitled to have.

Homeowner association rules typically guarantee owners the right to the “quiet enjoyment” of their homes. Whether the incidents are isolated or repetitive, the bottom line will always be whether the targeted individual felt intimidated or threatened, not whether the angry individual viewed his/her actions as abusive or intimidating or intended them that way.

Below are steps to follow when dealing with harassment or inappropriate behavior within a condo association:

  1. Write the offending individual a letter, or have the association’s attorney write a letter, describing the behavior, noting that it violated the association’s rules and stating the individual will be subject to fines or other sanctions and possibly legal action if the behavior doesn’t stop.
  2. If this isn’t enough, seek a civil restraining order in court, the details of which will depend on the nature of the offending actions

To learn more, click here

Water damage accounts for 20% of homeowners’ insurance claims. 40% of homeowners have experienced loss from water damage and billions of dollars in property losses are spent each year for water damage.

However, 93% of water damage can be prevented. Sub-zero temperatures are very common during Chicago winters, which can cause big problems for condos due to burst pipes affecting adjacent units. Remember to check any vacant units and be sure the heat is on and the water is shut off.

Click here for more tips on ways to protect your community in the cold temperatures.

Your association's financial health is dependent on setting an appropriate budget, reducing delinquencies and keeping expenses under control. Professional financial processing services that address these needs can actually save you money in the long run by helping you avoid costly legal action.  However, if you are a self-managing building you may not be aware of saving opportunities.

Here are a few ways that your condominium association may be able to trim your budget and keep assessments from spiraling out of control in 2018 and beyond:

  • Have your insurance reviewed by a broker.

Many condo associations simply renew their existing policy year after year without taking the time to explore other options. Just like your car insurance, you may be able to save on premiums with a different carrier. You may even find a policy with better coverage, to boot. An insurance broker can help you to find savings across a number of different carriers.

  • Explore waste removal options.

At Haus Financial Services, we see a wide range of pricing across our small condo clients. Even buildings of similar size are paying widely varying bills for their waste removal and recycling services. Price comes down to the carrier you use, the amount of service you require, and your ability to negotiate the best deal. You'll need to review your existing contract terms if you want to make a change, but this is a great expense to review for potentially huge savings.

  • Move reserves to a no-fee account.

Many brick and mortar banks are charging monthly fees on accounts that do not maintain a minimum balance. And those minimum balance requirements seem to be climbing continually higher while interest paid is virtually non-existent. An online account such as the Capital One Spark Business account, which has no minimum balance requirement and no fees, plus the ability to transfer funds to and from external accounts, is a good option for small condo associations.

  • Avoid unnecessary city fines for overfilled dumpsters.

The city of Chicago is cracking down on overflowing dumpsters, which promote rodents and other unsanitary conditions. Make sure that your waste removal service is adequate for the amount of waste being produced by your building. If you are concerned that neighbors or anyone other than owners and tenants are using your dumpsters, speak to your waste removal company about securing them.

 

On January 1, 2017, the Condominium and Common Interest Community Ombudsperson Act was amended. Included in the original legislation enacting the Ombudsperson Act was a requirement for associations to adopt a unit owner complaint resolution policy. As of 2017, that must now be done no later than January 1, 2019.

Each association is required to make the written policy available to all unit owners. Associations should be proactively addressing this requirement in 2018.

Beginning in July 2020, qualified unit owners will be able to make written request to the Ombudsperson for help with resolving disputes between unit owners and associations. This provision will be available only if the legislature provides funds for the program. As a result, whether or not the Ombudsperson will actually materialize remains to be seen.

The 2017 amendment also establishes that the act will be repealed on July 1, 2022. 

For details on what must be included in the written complaint resolution policy and the qualifications to make a complaint to the Ombudsperson Office, click here.

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