Unit owners allowed to do some business at home
Q: The covenants for our association prohibit using units for a business purpose. One of the owners is a sales person who represents several different lines of clothing for different companies. He has created a corporation for this purpose and uses his unit as the registered office for the corporation. Is using the unit as the registered office for the corporation a violation of the covenant prohibiting a business use of the unit?
A: Merely using the unit as the registered office for the owner's corporation is not likely to violate the covenant prohibiting a business use of the unit. Moreover, the typical provision that prohibits the business use of a unit expressly permits owners to receive business calls and mail at the unit and to store business records in the unit.
Q: Our condominium association has a three-member board, with staggered board terms. Each board member serves a two-year term. As result, there are either one or two seats open each year on the board. Is there any sort of restriction as to the number of candidates who can run for the board in any particular election?
A: There is no limit on the number of owners who can run for the board, and in general (with certain limitations) every owner can run for a seat on the board.
Q: Shortly after being elected to the board, one of the board members resigned. Is the board required to fill the vacancy with the candidate who received the next highest number of votes at the last annual meeting but was not elected?
A: Whether a condominium, or a common interest community association, a vacancy on the board can be filled by a two-thirds vote of the remaining board members, subject to other limitations in the governing statutes for these types of associations. However, unless there is unusual language in the declaration, the board would not be required, from a legal perspective, to fill the vacancy from among any of the candidates from the last annual meeting. There may be political considerations, however, to do so.
Q: Our association adopted a rule providing for mail-in ballots in lieu of proxies in the annual election for board members. The owners are supposed to mail their completed mail-in ballots to the association's accountant. Does Illinois require the ballot box for mail-in ballots to be located at the association?
A: Illinois law provides that mail-in ballots can be sent to the association or its designated agent. This would permit the board to provide that completed mail-in ballots are to be sent to the association's accountant.
There is no requirement that the mail-in ballots be placed in an actual ballot box at the point of delivery. However, appropriate measures should be taken by the association or its agent to properly secure the ballots that are received and to deliver all of the mailed-in ballots to the annual meeting to be counted.
Q: I understand that a unit owner in a condominium association can videotape a board meeting. Can the board impose any restrictions?
A: The Illinois Condominium Property Act provides that any unit owner in a condominium or master association may record the proceedings at board meetings, or portions thereof required to be open to owners, by tape, film or other means. However, the board may prescribe reasonable rules and regulations to govern the right of an owner to make such recordings.
The taping of meetings can be disruptive, intimidating, and create safety issues. A board should address these issues by establishing rules that will ensure the least amount of disruption to the meeting without impairing unit owner rights. The proactive board will find that the adoption of rules concerning the taping of board meetings will serve to reduce the likelihood of unpleasant and time consuming skirmishes with unit owners during a meeting.
• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in the Chicago suburbs. Send questions for the column to him at CondoTalk@ksnlaw.com. The firm provides legal service to condominium, townhouse, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives. This column is not a substitute for consultation with legal counsel.