Smaller buildings, in an effort to keep expenses down, often choose to assign building "chores" to owners rather than pay an outside service to handle the tasks.  Cleaning, lawn maintenance and snow removal generally end up on this list.

There are several reasons why HausFS recommends that associations hire an outside service to handle these maintenance items:

  1. It can be difficult to get all owners to participate, which means that certain owners may find themselves picking up the slack for their neighbors.  When the work is outsourced, everyone contributes through payment of assessments. 
  2. Entrusting physical labor to owners can result in injuries and insurance claims against the association.  Hire contractors who can provide proof of insurance for their business and you'll eliminate liability issues for your association.
  3. The Board has a fiduciary duty to provide for the maintenance of the building.  Individual owners do not. Attempting to assign chores and enforce compliance through fines could be construed as a breach of fiduciary duty.  Board members need to consider the well-being of the entire association, not just their own pocketbooks.

The last thing many owners want to do after a hard day's work and handling their own personal chores is to clean up after their neighbors.  Outsourcing maintenance for your building makes life a little easier for everyone.

The city offers a special program in which property owners share half the cost of sidewalk replacement.  Owners pay $3/square foot for sidewalk replacement.  This is well below amounts typically charged by contractors.

I recently signed up for the program for our 4-unit building through our Alderman's office.  Once signed up, a contractor is sent to measure the sidewalk to be replaced and an invoice is sent to the building.  Payment must be made within 60 days or the property will be dropped from the list.  The program is offered annually on a first-come, first-served basis and generally fills up quickly.  If you are dropped from the list, you will need to reapply in the following year.

For more information and to apply, see the city's of Chicago's website or contact your Alderman's office.

Email communication is quick, easy and cost-free.  However, when it comes to communicating with your owners, it is not a legally acceptable form of relaying information without an owner's approval.

Notices of meetings, annual financial information, association budgets, and other legally required communication must still be delivered personally or via the US mail in order to be considered compliant.  An exception is made only when an owner has agreed to receive communication electronically.  That authorization should be provided in written form to the Board and kept in the association's files.  This protects the Board against any legal claims of failure to provide the required notice.

If your association pays any owner or Board member for services performed for the association, the Board must secure workers compensation insurance coverage for any accidents or injuries sustained while those services are being performed.  The association's general liability insurance will not cover any individuals who are being paid, only those acting in a volunteer capacity.

Income earned ($600 or more) is also taxable and must be reported to the IRS.  The Board should secure a completed Form W-9 from any paid owner/Board member.  A Form 1099-MISC should be completed and delivered to the recipient by January 31.  Government copies and Form 1096 must be filed by February 28.

If your association pays for common heating gas or electric, your bills will show a large increase during the winter months.  Enroll in the budget payment plan through Peoples Gas or ComEd and your monthly utility expense will be the same regardless of the month.

This option helps to even out cash flow throughout the year and makes financial data more consistent.  Peoples Gas usually offers the budget payment option on its invoices.  Just pay the budget amount as indicated instead of the total due, and they will automatically enroll you in the budget plan.

Monthly budget payments may be adjusted during the year to account for changes in usage or utility costs.

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