Condominiums associations are considered corporations in the eyes of the IRS. As such, they are required to file an annual tax return (either an 1120 or 1120-H).

Condo associations showing taxable income on their federal returns are also required to file an IL-1120 with the state of Illinois.

Tax returns must be postmarked by April 16th this year. The IRS granted an extra month to file beginning with the 2016 tax year.

Board members can no longer represent their association in an administrative hearing. Administrative law judges hearing cases in the City of Chicago used to allow non-attorney representation for ordinance violations. However, it has been determined recently that non-attorneys appearing on behalf of such entities at administrative hearings were committing the unauthorized practice of law.

In Illinois, if you attend an administrative hearing on behalf of an entity without an attorney, a default judgment may be entered because you will not be allowed to appear on its behalf. In order to vacate the default judgment, you will need to engage an attorney to file a motion on your behalf, in most cases resulting in an additional hearing and costs.

Therefore, it is recommended that condo board members engage legal representation shortly after receiving an ordinance violation in order to prevent a default judgment and additional expense.

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It depends. 

Owners generally have the right to see attorney invoices. However, when an invoice pertains to attorney-client privileged information, the council should review them and redact any privileged information.

It is generally advised that community associations inform owners requesting access to the association’s counsel’s invoices that if they wish to review the content of legal invoices, instead of just the amounts billed, the invoices must first be reviewed by the council so privileged information can be redacted.

The association should not make the determination as to what is or is not subject to the attorney-client privilege or attempt to undertake the redaction on their own without the advice of counsel. The cost to review and redact the invoices should be charged to the requesting unit owner.

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When it comes to condo board elections, owners have the right to vote in person or to submit a signed "proxy." A proxy allows another individual to vote on their behalf if they are unable to attend the election meeting. Candidates running for election can solicit proxies from owners in efforts to garner the votes they need to be voted onto the board.

Although proxies may not be ideal, they are not unethical.  It is often necessary within condominium living to meet quorum requirements. This means that a certain percentage of owners must participate in a vote in person or by proxy for the vote to be considered valid. Meeting with fellow owners and trying to get their vote is the same way politics work on a national, state, and local scale. As long as candidates are given equal opportunity to solicit votes, it is ethical and democratic.

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Condominium associations in Illinois are required by law to carry property insurance that covers the common elements of the property. Unit owners are responsible for insuring their units. When there is damage to a unit or the common elements, however, there is often a lot of confusion regarding who is responsible and how a claim should be handled.

Here are a few basic tips regarding insurance and insurance claims in condo buildings in Illinois:

  1. The association's insurance policy covers damage to the common elements, up to the drywall/primer in the unit. Any original fixtures in the unit (as installed by the developer) are generally also covered.
  2. Unit owners are responsible for damage to the paint or other wall or floor coverings plus the contents of their units (personal belongings). Tile, carpeting, flooring, wall paper, etc. are therefore the unit owner's responsibility. Unit owners should have an HO-6 insurance policy in place to cover their unit contents. 
  3. Insurance typically covers only the damage resulting from an event, not the cause of damage from lack of maintenance. If a roof leaks because a tree falls on it, an insurance policy would likely cover repairs to the roof as well as repairs to the damaged common elements. If a roof leaks because the association has not replaced or repaired an aging roof, an insurance policy maycover resulting damages but not roof repairs.
  4. If a problem originates from within a unit (leaking toilet or bathtub, broken in-unit water heater, fire) and leads to damage to the common elements and/or another unit, the association must address the repairs of the affected common elements. If a claim is made, the association's deductible is chargeable back to the unit that caused the damage provided there is evidence to support this. Damage to portions of the units not covered by the association's policy must be handled by the unit owner(s). 
  5. It is often most effective for the association to file an insurance claim, determine what is covered, charge back any deductible to negligent units as applicable and then allow the unit owners to work out any uncovered repairs to units with their respective insurance carriers. 
  6. Whenever there is a need to make repairs to portions of the building from the drywall out into common walls, the association should be involved. It is not advisable to allow unit owners to handle their own repairs if it means going into walls. The association should ensure that licensed and insured contractors are handling any necessary repairs to the common elements in order to mitigate additional damage.

Handling insurance claims can be complicated. Coverage will be dictated by your association's Declaration and by your existing insurance policy.

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