Managing communication in your condo association isn't always easy, but promoting open communication is a great way to build a sense of community among your neighbors. Keeping your documents and other information well-organized and ensuring that all owners have access at their convenience can instill trust in the board and make transitions to new board members a breeze.

Here at ChicagoCondoResource we are always looking for ways to make condo living easy - and to find low-cost solutions for self-managing buildings. If you’re living in a self-managed condo association, taking the step to manage your association online could be the best thing you ever do for your association. CCR Sponsor Condo Ally provides FREE websites built specifically for condo associations, with a focus on small (25 units or fewer), self-managed associations. Sign-up only takes about a minute so there’s nothing to lose with getting started.

With Condo Ally you can:

  • Store association documents and important information in one place
  • Schedule meetings and events online
  • Keep track of maintenance and deadlines
  • Share interesting local information for members to see, using maps and announcements
  • Conduct polls, collect votes, and keep transparent, open lines of communication going

This free service is completely secure and private. No one can log in to your association’s Condo Ally site unless they’re specifically added by a board member. And all of your transferred data is encrypted using the same technology banks use on their websites.

Share documents, take the weight off the board’s shoulders, increase transparency, save time and energy, and enjoy living in your association more! Build a stronger condo association today with Condo Ally.

Visit Condoally.com to get started on your FREE website.

On June 22, 2016, the Chicago City Council adopted an ordinance that now requires property owners wishing to rent on a short term basis to apply for and obtain certain licenses. A part of the application involves confirming that the owner’s unit is not located in a condominium property that restricts short-term rentals. The city of Chicago plans to maintain a list of buildings that do not allow short-term rentals and will refer to that list before issuing renting licenses. Associations however, will have to report their own restriction status to the city. Each association must report their rental restricted status by submitting an affidavit form which is available from the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Additionally, the new ordinance will place requirements on unit owners who are selling their properties. If a unit owner knows that their property is on the prohibited buildings list, the unit owner must disclose that information when leasing or selling their unit.

To learn more about the ordinance and whether or not your association should be added to the prohibited buildings list, click here.

HausFS can help clients to determine if they qualify to be added to the prohibited buildings list and ensure that buyers are notified of this restriction when an owner is selling. Please contact us!

Fraud in a condominium building can be devastating. The most common form of fraud in a condo building is theft by a board member who has the authority to sign checks. Risk is especially high when only one individual has access to association funds. Warning signs include refusal to produce documents and a change in an individual’s financial position. Residents may also complain that maintenance is not being handled even though they have been paying their assessments. 

Below are tips on how to avoid fraud or financial mismanagement.

1. Ensure that more than one board member has access to bank accounts and the authority to sign checks, so that one person is not wholly in charge of deposits and disbursements. This removes the temptation for anyone with access to the bank accounts to steal. Often easy access with no oversight is enough to compel an otherwise honest person to use the association's funds for personal use.

2. Regularly monitor financial accounts and invoices. Documentation should be available for any expense paid with association funds.

3. Compare statements and invoices from month-to-month to determine if there are major discrepancies. A board member may be inflating payments to vendors in exchange for a "kickback" or portion of the payment paid back to the individual.

4. Avoid having an association debit card. This is by far the easiest way for anyone to access association funds and disguise personal purchases as association expenses, particularly if they are small dollar amounts at places like hardware stores.

5. Have the association's financial records audited or reviewed annually by a professional.

6. If a board member or owner suspects fraud, he or she should request documentation of the association's financial records and contact an attorney if the records are not produced in accordance with IL condo law.

HausFS has worked with numerous clients to identify and remedy condo association fraud. We can assure you that the risk is real. If you need help understanding your rights to information as a condominium owner or would like financial review, please contact us.

For more information on dealing with fraud, click here

Last month, the Utah Supreme Court clarified the standard of review that is to be applied when interpreting community association declarations.The Court determined that the “business judgment rule” applies to an association board’s decisions under the association’s governing documents. The court stated that “In applying the business judgment rule, courts generally apply a presumption of reasonableness.” In this particular case, the board’s decision was upheld because it was “reasonable and made in good faith and [was] not arbitrary or capricious.” Read more here.

This ruling reinforces a Utah community association board's authority to interpret the governing documents and make decisions accordingly, providing they are acting reasonably and in good faith. 

IL condominium boards are similarly required to act in the best interests of the unit owners and are protected by the business judgment rule provided that they do not act in bad faith or with malice. However, they are also required to show diligence in handling the affairs of the association by taking proper precautions to protect the association. This includes taking such steps as reviewing association financial transactions and securing proper insurance.

HausFS promotes complete transparency of association financials and documents. Contact us if you'd like to find out more about how to protect all of the owners in your association.

Unsure if you're carrying the proper insurance? Have your insurance reviewed by one of our Recommended Vendors.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) may begin financing more condominium units. If they do, this would be great news of first-time buyers and for seniors. This is because FHA financing offers down payments for as little as 3.5% and is far more lenient on issues such as credit scores and debt-to-income ratios. The FHA is also a dominant source of insured reverse mortgages, which is popular among the vast majority of seniors.

In a speech last week to the National Association of Realtors, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro said revisions to controversial FHA rules on condos have been completed and only await final Obama administration approval. These changes would simplify controversial certification procedures for condo buildings and amend other rules that have kept thousands of condo buildings out of eligibility.

The bill will require a dramatic streamlining of current rules and other changes designed to revive the condo financing business at FHA.

Read more here.

Haus Financial Services helps clients prepare documentation for FHA certification, which can be a complicated process. This is helpful for sellers who want to attract more potential buyers.

See our other recent articles on FHA Certification:

FHA eases rules on financing for condos, but it might not be enough

How can I tell if my condo is FHA approved?

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