A manager has two primary responsibilities. The first is to carry out policies set by the board, and the second is to manage daily operations. It's important to understand the responsibilities and limitations of your property manager.

Here are a few items to keep in mind regarding the role of a property manager:

  1. A manager is trained to handle conflict, but will likely not be getting involved in neighbor disagreements.
  2. A manager is an advisor, not a board member.
  3. A manager can not change or institute policies.
  4. A manager is not a consultant for residents.
  5. A manager is not available 24/7.

To learn more, click here.

The purpose of rules and regulations is to clarify governing document provisions and regulate behavior. However, many associations adopt rules that directly conflict with their governing documents, are outdated, are too complicated, can’t be enforced, or sometimes even violate laws.

It is important to keep in mind a set of guidelines when establishing new rules for your association. New rules should be:

  1. Consistent with laws and governing documents
  2. Objective
  3. Reasonable
  4. Clear and specific
  5. Put in writing and formally distributed
  6. Written with input from the association attorney and community members
  7. A step forward in enhancing the association

To learn more about how to write good rules, click here.

Standard practices for an Illinois condominium board have historically included:

  • Only keeping meeting minutes during open meetings, not during closed/executive sessions.
  • Not providing violators with evidence related to their violations, such as written complaints, video footage, etc.
  • Considering past behavior of the unit owner accused of a violation when levying a fine.

However, the Illinois appellate court has recently made many condominium board standard practices illegal. Boucher v. 111 East Chestnut Condominium Association held that in levying fines against a belligerent unit owner who verbally berated and insulted management and employees, the board had violated his constitutional right to free speech. It was also held that the board breached its fiduciary duty to provide the unit owner with footage of the incidents or any written complaints.

In light of this hearing, it is recommended that associations:

  • Keep minutes of all executive sessions/violation hearings where quorum is present.
  • Be prepared to provide evidence upon request and before levying any fines against a unit owner.
  • Include information on all charges they intend to consider when issuing a violation and/or fine so the accused can adequately defend themselves.

Remember that any fine levied against an owner must be thoroughly documented in order to be legally enforceable.

To read more, click here.

When it comes to best practices for any Board member or Association leader, it is important to remember COMMUNITY.

C- Communication. Boards should be communicative and transparent with association residents.

O- Organization. The Board should ensure that all Association records comply with Illinois law.

M- Mindfulness. As elected, volunteer officials, the Board should keep in mind their responsibilities, but also, their limitations.

M- Money. The Board should stick to a budget and set aside reserve funds.

U- Updates. To avoid legal trouble, Associations should abide by any changes to laws governing condominium and homeowner associations.

N - Needs. An attorney should review vendor contracts to ensure legal protection.

I - Involvement. To be most effective, the Board should include everyone and assign responsibilities.

T- Thorough. The Board should have a complete understanding of the Association’s governing documents.

Y- You’ve got this. The Board should be unified to instill confidence.

To learn more, view the full article by Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit attorney Ryan Shpritz here.

It's not unusual for condominium associations to struggle from a lack of involvement from owners and an inability to locate enough volunteers to fill the required number of board seats. This is particularly true in small associations, where the burden is often shouldered by one or two individuals who are willing to take responsibility. Sometimes, however, the opposite situation exists and there are more volunteers who want to participate than open board seats. This can create different challenges for the association.

Your Bylaws will dictate how many board members should be elected to your board. If your association is operating with five board members when the Bylaws state three, however, you are not in compliance with your governing documents, which exist to minimize conflict within the association.

Board seats are often limited in smaller buildings because it can be difficult to gather a quorum (majority of the board) in a meeting in order to conduct business. When you are operating with only three board members - the minimum required by IL condo law - only two board members must meet in order to vote on association business. This leads to quicker, more efficient board decisions. The more board members you have, the more individuals you'll need to coordinate and organize to make decisions. 

Boards are also most effective when there is an uneven number. Even numbers introduce the opportunity for a stalemate when voting. And piling on the board members can lead to burnout, leaving few options for replacing board members should any of them decide to leave the board. Spreading the responsibility among owners over time is a better approach than having them all participate at once.

It might seem to be generous to allow more members to participate on the board then required, but sometimes there really can be too many cooks in the kitchen. When the number of volunteers exceeds the number of board seats, conduct a proper election to fill the required number of seats - no more, and no less.

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