Condo association board need not meet on site
Q: Board of directors' meetings of our association are typically held at the association property, where it is very convenient for owners to attend. The new board president works long hours, so board meetings are now being held at his office to accommodate his schedule. This has made it difficult for many owners, who don't have cars, to attend. Is the board required to hold its meetings at the association property?
A: Board meetings do not need to be held at the association property. The Illinois General Not for Profit Corporation Act provides that meetings of the board of directors may be held either in or outside of Illinois. That is pretty broad. Nonetheless, the declaration of condominium or covenants for an association typically requires meetings of the board and of the association to be held within the county where the property is located.
Q: The board of our condominium association levied a very large special assessment to pay for a roof replacement project. The special assessment is more than 25% of the budget. Owners contend that the board did not do its due diligence in bidding out the work, and that the work can be done for much less and still be done by a reputable contractor. Owners with 20% of the votes in the association submitted a petition to the board to reject the special assessment. As a result, we thought the special assessment was "dead." The board is now telling us a majority of the owners must actually vote to reject the special assessment. Who is correct here?
A: The board is correct. The petition filed by the owners triggers a vote of the owners; however, the petition itself does not affect the validity of the special assessment.
More specifically, if any separate assessment adopted by the board would exceed a certain threshold, the owners with 20% of the votes of the association have a right to file a petition with the board. If the board receives such a petition, the board must call a meeting of the unit owners so that the owners can vote on the separate assessment. Unless a majority of the total votes of all unit owners in the association are cast at the meeting to reject the separate assessment, it is ratified. This is all set out in the Illinois Condominium Property Act, and in the Common Interest Community Association Act.
Obtaining a petition signed by the owners with 20% of the votes can be difficult enough. Getting a majority of the total votes of all unit owners to reject the special assessment can be extremely difficult.
Q: The books and records for our association are kept in an on-site management office. Only the property manager, who is an employee of the association, has the key to the office. Who should have a key to the office and access to these records?
A: When an association has a property manager, in addition to the property manager, a member, or members of the board, should also have a key to the on-site management office. Which board members are provided a key to the office should be a decision made by the board in a board meeting.
In my experience, when an association is professionally managed, a key to the office is most typically provided to the board president.
That doesn't mean other board members can't have access to the office, as may be needed. However, it is important to maintain the security and integrity of the association's books and records and to control who has access to the office where they are maintained. I am not suggesting a board member would do anything nefarious. However, books and records can be misfiled or removed and not returned, inadvertently.
• 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.