Condo Advisor: Spending limits in condominium association bylaws are valid

Q: I reside in a high-rise condominium complex. Our condominium association statement and bylaws are over 30 years old and there is a $5,000 spending limit in the bylaws unless a majority of the unit owners approve the spending. Are there any exceptions to this provision? Our property manager says that Illinois law overrides spending limits on a condo declaration.

A: The expense limits contained in a condominium statement and bylaws are valid, however, Section 18.4 (a) of the Condominium Law contains an exception that expressly states that such expense limits “shall not apply to expenses of repair, replacement or restoration of existing portions of the common elements.”

Thus, the spending limits are valid in relation to spending for something that does not currently exist as part of the common items, however, the spending limit does not apply to maintenance, repair and replacement of existing common elements.

Q: I own a unit in a condominium association. A unit in my hallway installed a video recording doorbell on their door. I discussed my concerns with the property manager and it was acknowledged that unit owners cannot install video recording doorbells on doors or door frames without board approval. However, the board has yet to enforce the removal of the video recording doorbell. What I can do?

A: The condo declarations state that unit owners may not modify limited common elements without board approval. Doors and door frames are considered a limited common element. Most boards in a condominium association will not allow video recording doorbells to be installed for aesthetic reasons, but the board may deny such requests based on objections other unit owners have to having them recorded in their hallways. The board must take corrective action to remove the video recording doorbell if it was installed without the board’s permission.

As for the individual owner recourse, objecting owners must file written complaints with the management company/board for violation of the association’s governing documents and demand that the board take corrective action. A board that refuses to enforce its governing documents may be subject to breach of fiduciary duty claims by opposing owners.

Q: The board of directors of my Chicago condominium association recently approved the hiring of a real estate agent to market our property and obtain purchase offers to sell the condominium building. I question the legality of this board action because the board has not yet obtained 85% approval of the unit to sell the building. Am I correct, board action is wrong without 85% approval?

A: While 85% unit owner approval is required for a valid purchase agreement to sell all units and common elements in a Chicago condominium association under Section 15 of the Condominium Law, supplemented by the Chicago condo ordinance, there is nothing in the law. that prevents a condominium board from hiring a real estate agent to obtain purchase offers or other due diligence related to a potential wholesale sale. In fact, a board has to do basic due diligence to present the details to unit owners so that unit owners can make an informed decision about whether a wholesale purchase offer is acceptable to them. Similarly, condominium boards may, but are not required, to hire an appraiser to appraise the building and determine whether purchase offers received are market priced.

Please note that while the City of Chicago requires 85% approval of the unit owner for a condominium association wholesale sale, the rest of the State of Illinois is governed solely by Section 15 of the Law. of condominiums, which only requires 75% approval of the unit owner (unless a local municipality where the property is located has increased the owner approval threshold).

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