Whether you are communicating with other board members or reaching out to community residents, your communication strategy should be consistent and should incorporate a variety of mediums.

Here are six ways to communicate within your community association.

  1. Bulletin boards/display screens can be placed in the lobby to advertise upcoming events. 
  2. Email updates are a great way to ensure every association member is receiving all of the information they need. 
  3. Social media accounts can keep your association engaged. However, it is imperative to proactively work with legal counsel to draft a social media policy to avoid repercussions involving liability or litigation.
  4. Community apps may appeal to residents who would like to discuss association events and issues with neighbors but don’t use social media. 
  5. A community website can be used to keep and update association documents, collect assessments, submit maintenance requests, amenity management, etc. 
  6. Community meetings, whether in-person or virtual, are a great space to discuss association matters. 

 

Learn more here

The State of Illinois, Cook County, and City of Chicago are developing new emergency COVID-19 rental assistance programs.  

Two statewide programs and a program serving the City of Chicago will open in May.

All programs will offer assistance with up to 12 months of unpaid or past due rent and up to 3 months of future rent. 

To qualify, applicants need to:

  • Have experienced a COVID-related financial hardship
  • Be at risk of homelessness or housing instability
  • Have a total household income below 80% of Area Median Income.

View information about the IL Rental Payment Program offered by Illinois Housing Department Authority here. Applications open May 17th.

Learn about additional state and City of Chicago programs here and view a webinar on the programs here

Condo owners who rent out their units may want to pass along this information to their tenants, if they are experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19.

In communities where trust exists, people are satisfied with their boards and know that they are well informed and the property is well managed. These condo boards are active, directors debate vigorously amongst themselves, owners question the board often, and meetings are well-attended and lively. 

Here’s how you can build trust in your community:

  1. Speak with one voice. Directors may disagree and debate at board meetings, but once a decision is made, the directors end their disagreements and support the decisions made.
  2. Keep owners up-to-date. Anytime the board has news, it is essential for the board to update owners and send it to everyone simultaneously. 
  3. Make documents available. Corporate records should be available to all owners, minus any documents with personal information. Digitizing the condo’s records makes it easier to provide documents quickly and at no charge.
  4. Give more notice than required. The Condominium Act provides guidelines for the number of days notice that must be given to owners for events such as meetings or special assessments. This should be interpreted as the minimum notice.
  5. Ask owners for input. Ask owners for their thoughts and input on things that will affect them via surveys. 
  6. Be nice. Nothing destroys trust faster than nastiness in emails, meetings, and chats. 
  7. Stop negative talk. Provide regular updates of accurate information to hold negative gossip in check. 

Learn more here

In condominiums and co-op apartments, the relationship between the owner and property is complicated. The unit owner rules within the walls of their unit, but everything beyond the drywall is ruled by the community’s board and governing documents. 

This hybrid ownership often skews the understanding of who is responsible for what in their community. Many owners have a misconception that their board and/or manager functions like landlord and therefore, should be contacted about any/all complaints. However, the board actually represents the community as a whole and governs the common elements. They do not represent individual owners or govern individual units.

As a rule of thumb, unit owners are typically responsible for whatever is within the four walls of their individual unit and the co-op or condo is responsible for everything in the common areas of the property and any building system that serves more than one apartment. 

The best way for a new unit owner to educate themselves about individual responsibilities is to read the governing documents of the building.

Learn more here

The American Rescue Plan Act includes the Homeowner Assistance Fund to help Americans avoid foreclosure. Thanks to advocacy efforts, homeowners association assessments fall under eligible housing expenses when applying for the fund.

Here’s what you need to know about the Homeowner Assistance Fund:

  • The funds are appropriated to the U.S. Department of Treasury and distributed by governors to their state’s housing finance agency upon request.
  • Governors have 45 days to infom the U.S. Department of Treasury that their administration will create a program under the Homeowner Assistance Fund.
  • Under the Homeowner Assistance Fund, homeowners can receive…
    • Financial Assistance to reinstate a mortgage or to pay other housing-related costs related to a period of forbearance, delinquency, or default.
    • Payment assistance for utilities, internet service, homeowner’s insurance, and homeowners association or condominium association common charges.
  • The state housing finance agency established the framework for granting funds to homeowners.
  • It is expected that the program will be a grant given to individual homeowners and not community associations. Therefore, association boards, managers, and attorneys should direct homeowners financially impacted by the pandemic to this resource.
  • The Homeowner Assistance Fund has different requirements from Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery funds.

Learn more here.

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