Community Association Living Q&A

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The CAI – Illinois Membership Committee has gathered the top questions we are asked about Community Association living. The answers have been developed by our Membership Committee and reviewed by an attorney. If you are looking for more specific answers to your questions, we recommend you check out CAI’s Publication Catalog, or contact an appropriate professional such as an attorney, accountant, or service provider who specializes in community associations.

CAI provides these Questions and Answers as a member service, and they are not intended to replace your Association documents, or the advice of your association attorney or other professionals. Please refer to your association attorney or other qualified professional if you need clarification on issues specific to your association.

If you would like to submit your question to CAI, please send us an email! CAI will select questions to answer and post them on the website. Please try to keep your questions general, as we can’t answer specific questions about a particular association. Due to time constraints, CAI cannot answer every question submitted.

Thanks to the CAI – Illinois Membership Committee, CAI – Illinois Legal Committee, for their help in submitting questions and developing answers.

Question 1: What recourse do I have if I feel that my Board is being unjust?

Answer: It is the duty of all Homeowners to attend the Board meetings, read the meeting minutes and vote on the elections for the Board of Directors. If for some reason you do not approve of the decisions that your Board has made, we recommend that you first attempt to gather all the information necessary to make an informed decision. It is our experience that most decisions made by Board of Directors are in the best interests of the Association and once Owners understand the reasoning behind such decisions, they concur.

If for some reason you have performed a diligent investigation and determined that the Board is acting irresponsibly, you may want to consult with an attorney. In the alternative, you can follow the steps to remove your Board of Directors and elect a new Board of Directors. The procedure to remove the Board of Directors is generally set forth in the Association’s Declaration and/or By-Laws. The procedure will differ depending on your governing documents.

Please remember that if you do remove the Board, you must find Owners that are willing to step in and fill those vacant positions.

Question 2: What are the legal responsibilities of a Board member?

Answer: The responsibilities of a Board member are listed in the Association’s Declaration. If you reside in a condominium, the Illinois Condominium Property Act also provides duties and responsibilities for Board members.

Generally, Board Members are responsible for overseeing the administration of the Association. This includes the maintenance of the property, collection of assessments, keeping of records, making certain that all Owners live in harmony within the Association. On occasion, the Board will delegate a number of its responsibilities to a management company. However, the overall responsibility to oversee the affairs of the Association rests with the Board of Directors.

Question 3: What should my association be looking at when searching for a management company?

Answer: CAI has a number of professional designations that let you know that a manager has met certain education and experience levels – Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), Association Management Specialist (AMS), Large Scale Manager (LSM), and Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM). In addition to these designations, you should ask the management company for references. References should not only include other properties that this management company manages in your area, but also references of professionals that the management company works with. For instance, consultation with your attorney or account may provide some assistance in obtaining a management company.

In addition to obtaining references and checking designations, you should review financial statements that they have prepared for other Associations. Lastly, you should review the contract carefully. Although, there may be a set fee for managing the property, it is common practice for management companies to charge additional costs for items, which are not covered under the contract. This is common and acceptable, however, the Board needs to review these.

Question 4: How are associations supposed to handle Board Member elections? What majority of association residents does it take to elect a Board? How do proxies and absentee ballots effect elections?

Answer: Prior to an Annual Meeting at which the Board Members are elected, the Board is required to send notice to all Owners advising the date, time and place of the upcoming election. In addition, it is generally common practice to request names of those Owners that are interested in running for the Board of Directors at the meeting. Once the Board has the name of the Directors that are interested in running, a proxy or absentee ballot should be mailed to all Owners setting forth all known candidates. Your Association may use a proxy or, in the alternative, an absentee ballot depending on the rules and regulations that your Board of Directors has adopted. Notice of the Annual Meeting setting the date, time and place must be mailed no less than ten (10) days and more than thirty (30) days prior to the meeting. If you reside in a condominium association and generally for a townhome or homeowners association, only Owners of record may serve on the Board of Directors.

The quorum for your Annual Meeting should be specified in the By-Laws. If you reside in a condominium association of 20 or more units, quorum shall be twenty (20%) percent unless the Owners have voted to increase the quorum requirement. If you reside in an association with less than 20 units, you need to check your governing documents for the quorum requirements. If you reside in a townhome or homeowners association, your quorum requirement will depend on your governing documents. If quorum is not obtained at the Annual Meeting, the meeting cannot be conducted, and the Directors shall serve their successors are duly elected.

Question 5: We can't find anyone to serve on the Board of our Association. What can we do?

Answer: This question is quite common in association living. As you may be aware, there is a lot of apathy and Owners are reluctant to serve on the Board of Directors.

In order to make your Association more conducive to having Board Members, we recommend that the current Board create an environment that is supportive and appreciative of Association volunteers as opposed to adversarial. In addition, the Board should attempt to have shorter meetings in which only business is conducted. Long and drawn out meetings where nothing seems to get accomplished tends to deter good people from serving on the Board of Directors.

In addition, attempt to create committees to help the Board Members with their affairs. In creating committees, attempt to find homeowners that are interested in the particular committee. For example, someone with a beautiful garden can chair the landscaping committee.

If your Association is still unable to attract Board Members, make the Owners understand that this is their duty as Owners to serve on the Board. Advise them that they have a substantial investment in the property and have to put in the time to make certain that the affairs of the Association are administered properly. Only by doing so will the property values in the Association remain at an acceptable level or increase.

Question 6: What laws govern community associations in Illinois?

Answer: All condominium associations in Illinois are covered by the Illinois Condominium Property Act. The Illinois Condominium Property Act statute number is 765ILCS 605/1. The Illinois Condominium Property Act is constantly updated. If you need a copy of the Act, you can download it free from this website or you may contact Community Associations Institute and they can alert you as to where you can obtain this document. If you reside in a common interest community, which includes most townhome and homeowner associations throughout the State of Illinois, only Section 18.5 (c) through (h) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act applies to these associations.

In addition, if your association is a not-for-profit corporation, then it is also governed by the Illinois General Not-For-Profit Corporation Act of 1986. The Illinois Condominium Property Act will supersede the General Not-For-Profit Corporation Act to the extent that they differ. In addition, the Illinois Condominium Property Act will supersede the provisions of your Declaration if your association is a condominium association.

If you have questions regarding the applicability of a certain law on your association, we recommend that you consult an attorney for further clarification.

Question 7: What Association documents are non-Board homeowners allowed to see?

Answer: Unit Owners in the association are allowed to review the:

  1. Board Meeting Minutes
  2. Insurance Policies
  3. Financial statements
  4. Declarations and By-Laws
  5. Rules and Regulations
  6. A current listing of the names, addresses and weighted vote of all members entitled to vote
  7. All contracts, leases and other agreements in effect at the time of the requests
  8. All ballots and proxies for all matters voted on by the members of the Association during the preceding 12 months.

If an Owner wants to review the books and records of the Association, the Owner should make a request to the Board of Directors or management in writing. The Board generally has 30 days to respond to your request. For some documents, it is also necessary to not only state the records you want to see but also state a proper purpose for reviewing the records. If the Board determines that you have made a valid request, they will advise you as to when you can come to the office of the Association to review the books and records. In the alternative, the Board may simply decide to make copies for you and mail them to you. You as an Owner are responsible for reimbursing the Association for the cost of receiving the documents as well as the costs of copying the documents.

Question 8: Can we allow renters in our Association?

Answer: It has become a common trend for Associations to restrict Owners from renting their Units or permitting rentals under certain circumstances. As an Owner, you must review your governing documents as well as the rules and regulations to determine whether there are any restrictions on rentals. This will differ from association to association.

Question 9: A broken water pipe in the Master Bedroom of a 2nd floor condominium unit has been repaired but I am concerned about mold formation as a result of the water intrusion on the drywall. Am I right to be concerned?

Answer: If the water break was repaired within 24 hours and all affected drywall materials where removed and replaced you should be in compliance with acceptable practices. Mold takes 24-48 hours to grow, so time is of the essence. With a quick response, you can prevent mold formation. If you pass the 48-hour mark, then be sure to have all the drywall or other cellulose materials that were impacted by the water replaced. If studs are involved, you may prevent mold formation by drying the studs with fans and applying an application of a special anti-microbial liquid.

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