Holiday decorations are an issue that Boards must deal with every year. Although decorations can be festive and exciting, Boards must sometimes prohibit certain decorations.

Boards must regulate decorations because they have an obligation to limit liability and protect the health and safety of all occupants. Additionally, the Board is responsible for maintaining a cohesive aesthetic in the interior and exterior of the property.  

In general, the Board is allowed to adopt rules limiting certain items from being hung on common elements for reasons of safety and aesthetic cohesiveness.  Problems can occur when rules are not established and there is a disagreement over decorations. Unit owners have the protected right to display certain religious articles, so the Board may need to consult legal counsel when creating rules or when taking action in the absence of any established rules.  

To learn more, click here.

A large number of condo units are occupied by renters. And a large portion of those rentals are owned by former owner-occupants who chose to rent rather than sell, often because they owed more on a mortgage than the property was worth when they needed to move out. 

Renting can come with many challenges. If you are an owner-occupant turned landlord you are likely going to deal with problematic tenants at some point. Below are some tips for preventing or addressing a problem tenant.

1. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your landlord rights and responsibilities, your tenants’ rights, and other laws that may pertain to your situation. Download this Landlord-Tenants Rights Self Help Packet for information specific to Illinois.

2. Make sure all rules, regulations and policies of your rental property are clearly stated in the lease and make sure your tenant is aware of all of them. If your condo association has its own Rules & Regulations in place, provide a copy to your tenant and ensure that you respond to and address any violation notices sent by your board. A condo association can fine you as the owner for tenant violations of the association's Rules and Regulations, and even evict your tenant.

3. Document the policies and procedures you use when handling problematic tenants. Include your response time, form of communication, warnings, notices and when to escalate the situation. Document all interactions with tenants whether they are good or bad. This includes phone calls, emails, texts, late rent payments, notices, warnings, complaints, maintenance requests, and all interactions within units.

4. Provide a copy of your lease to your condo board. This is required by condo law and failure to do so promptly could result in fines.

5. Don’t let your emotions take over when interacting with tenants. Be firm and unwavering in your policies.

6. Treat tenants with respect and kindness. This includes respecting confidentiality.

7. If you feel that a situation is beyond your control or training, call the police.

Learn more about common problematic tenant situations, and eviction law in Illinois.

These are steps that should be taken when a lawsuit is filed, or when an association, through its board members or management, receives a threat or notice of a claim that may result in litigation:

  1. First, Ensure Proper Insurance Coverage. Your condo association should have insurance coverage in place that will cover legal fees to defend a lawsuit. Consult with an insurance agent who specializes in coverage for community associations when determining which policies are appropriate.
  2. Send Notification of Claim: Insurance Carrier(s) and Attorney. Many associations often contact their insurance providers simply to put the provider on notice that they’ve received a communication which contains a threat of a claim, prior to the filing of actual litigation. Management and/or board of directors should also contact the association’s legal counsel.
  3. Determine if Insurance Coverage Exists. Many claims that are filed against associations and board members may be covered by one or more of the association’s insurance policies. The board should familiarize itself with each policy carried by the association.
  4. Confirm Legal Representation. When a lawsuit is filed, an association’s insurance carrier may assign legal counsel from a panel of “pre-approved” attorneys often used by the insurance company or it may have the right to choose its own attorney. Review this item with association's counsel to determine how legal representation will be handled for the claim.
  5. Vote to Defend Against Litigation. Any time an action is filed against individual board members, the board, the property manager or management company, or the association, the board must take the formal action of voting in an open meeting to defend the litigation.

Click here to read more about handling owner lawsuits in a condominium association.

Board Members often see the job of the secretary as daunting because of their duty to take meeting minutes. This task is often considered so daunting that Boards will often outsource instead of doing it themselves. However, taking minutes isn’t as difficult as some believe. Below are some helpful hints for any Board secretary.

  1. Meeting minutes are not verbatim transcripts. They should include the date, time, and location of the meeting, the names of present and absent Board Members, whether a quorum was met, voting where a motion was made, seconded and the outcome of the vote, actions take or agreed upon, items that are tabled, and the adjournment time.
  2. Be prepared for the meeting. Prepare a template beforehand so that taking notes is easy and fast, read through the agenda before the meeting, and bring a list of Board Members for attendance.
  3. Keep the notes short and sweet.

To read more, click here.

This is one of a series of articles regarding changes in the IL Condo Act that will become effective in 2018.

Your condo association's Declaration will outline the requirements for changing the Declaration itself. Your Declaration may require notification or approval of a proposed amendment by mortgagees. Mortgagees are the lenders or banks holding mortgages on the units in the building.

Mortgagees can be difficult to communicate with. It seems that this reality is now being addressed by 2018 changes to the IL Condo Act.

A change to Section 27 of the IL Condo Act provides that if amendments to condominium instruments require the approval of a mortgagee, the mortgagee is deemed to have approved the request unless they deliver a negative response within 60 days of mailing a request for approval by certified mail by the Association.

Amendments should always be created with the help of an experienced condo law attorney to ensure that the proper procedures are followed.

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