Renters can buy their units when they become condos
Q: The apartment building where I live is being converted to a condominium. Do I have a right to purchase my apartment?
A: Yes. When an apartment building is being converted to a condominium, the tenant has the right, within a certain time period, to purchase the unit on the same terms as is being offered to the public.
Q: I am purchasing a condominium unit. How do I know the assessments for the unit have been paid in full through the date of closing?
A: A prospective purchaser of a unit can obtain a statement from the association describing the amount of any unpaid balances on the unit. This statement is typically referred to as an "assessment status letter." If the assessment status letter discloses unpaid sums, those sums should be paid in full no later than the closing; otherwise, the association will have a lien against the unit it can enforce against the new owner.
Q: What amount of general liability insurance should our condominium association maintain?
A: The association should have commercial general liability insurance against claims and liabilities arising in connection with the ownership, existence, use or management of the property in a minimum amount of $1 million, or a greater amount deemed sufficient in the judgment of the board, insuring the board, the association, the management agent and their respective employees and agents and all people acting as agents. The unit owners must be included as additional insured parties but only for claims and liabilities arising in connection with the ownership, existence, use or management of the common elements. The insurance must cover claims of one or more insured parties against other insured parties. This is described in Section 12 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act.
Q: Can you explain what is a "limited common element" in a condominium?
A: A "limited common element" is a portion of the common elements so designated in the declaration as being reserved for the use of a certain unit or units to the exclusion of other units, including but not limited to balconies, terraces, patios and parking spaces.
Q: We have a condominium association comprised of five buildings. Can we require a board member be elected from each of the buildings, so every building is represented on the board?
A: No. The Illinois Condominium Act requires all members of the board are elected at large; this means board members are elected from among all of the owners. Board members have a fiduciary duty to all of the owners, not just to those owners who live in their particular building.
Q: If more than one person owns a unit in a condominium association, how do each of them vote with respect to that unit?
A: The Illinois Condominium Property Act provides that if only one of the unit owners is present, he is entitled to vote for that unit. If more than one owner is present, the votes allocated to that unit may be cast only in accordance with agreement of a majority in interest. There is majority agreement if any one of the multiple owners cast the votes allocated to that unit without protest being made promptly to the person presiding over the meeting by any of the other owners of the unit.
Q: I want to run for the board of my condominium association. Can I obtain a list of the unit owners so I can solicit their votes and/or proxies?
A: Yes. Upon the request of any unit owner, in connection with each annual meeting, the association must provide the unit owner with the names and addresses and percentage ownership of each unit owner entitled to vote at a meeting of the association within 10 days.
• 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.