In recent months, we have seen a legislative tug of war over the confidentiality of unit owner contact lists. This all started with changes to Section 19 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act that took effect on January 1, 2018 requiring that associations include every unit owner’s email address and phone number on the unit owner contact list that is available to the association’s owners. The amendment also relaxed the requirements for obtaining access to the unit owner contact list by eliminating the requirement that the requesting owner state a proper purpose in order to examine and copy the list. These changes resulted in an outcry from both unit owners and association boards. It appeared that some local and state officials were listening.
Just three weeks after the amendment went into effect, Senator Kwame Raoul introduced legislation in Springfield that would eliminate the requirement that unit owner contact lists include owners’ email addresses and telephone numbers. This came just one week after two Chicago aldermen, Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward) and Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward), introduced an ordinance in the Chicago City Council that would create different record inspection rules for condominium associations located in Chicago.
On March 28, 2018, the Chicago City Council passed the Ordinance proposed by Hopkins and Reilly that over-rides controversial changes to Section 19 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act. This legislative tug of war has created some confusion for associations. So what does all of this mean?
For associations located in Chicago, the Ordinance over-rides the provisions of Section 19 of the Act. Not only does the Ordinance eliminate associations’ obligation to provide owners’ email addresses and phone numbers, it also eliminates access to information that was available to owners prior to the 2018 amendments to the Act (that is, the name, weighted vote and postal address of the owner of each unit). In addition, consistent with its focus on unit owner privacy, the Ordinance does not require that Chicago associations allow owners to inspect and copy election ballots and proxies. Associations are allowed to opt out of the Ordinance and be governed by the requirements of Section 19 of the Act, but that requires a 2/3rds vote of the association’s unit owners.
Keep in mind that the Ordinance is not retrospective. This means that any unit owner personal information already lawfully obtained does not have to be returned, destroyed or deleted, but still must be used only for purposes that relate to the association and not for any commercial purpose.
The Ordinance only provides relief for those associations located within the City of Chicago. The rest of Illinois is still subject to the amendment to Section 19. All associations outside the City of Chicago are still required to include every unit owner’s email address and phone number on the unit owner contact list that is available to the association’s owners. The relaxed requirements for obtaining the list also still apply. However, relief for the rest of Illinois is still a possibility. The legislation introduced by Senator Kwame Raoul that would eliminate the requirement to disclose unit owners’ email addresses and telephone numbers for all Illinois associations remains pending in Springfield.
Since January 1, 2018, the pendulum has swung from expanded access to unit owner personal information, to no access to unit owner personal information, at least for condominium associations in Chicago. Whether relief for all Illinois associations will come remains to be seen.
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