immediately apply. Namely, the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is normally inapplicable to a private, residential property, can be triggered. Most associations without any public areas need only be compliant with the Fair Housing Act, which is far less comprehensive. To ensure that the property is ADA-compliant can result in costly renovations to doorways, restrooms, and main entrances.

2. Liability Issues – Anytime someone walks onto association property, regardless of why that person entered, there is potential for a lawsuit. Maintaining the association as private property allows the board to limit the liability (to an extent), by requiring unit owners to take responsibility for their guests and invitees and demanding proper insurance from all vendors and contractors entering the property to perform work. However, any liability private associations face pales in comparison to the liability exposure of opening up the property for a public event. Moreover, the association’s insurance policy may well exclude coverage for public events. Before a board considers permitting public access for an event, it should discuss the matter with its insurance professional.

3. Security Issues – We will refrain from writing much about the security aspect of accommodating the public, as any discerning reader can easily imagine the host of security issues implicated by public access. Condominium buildings and homeowners’ associations are an attractive target for thieves; the board should carefully consider the association’s ability to address the increased security threat before allowing the public onto the property.

4. Tax Issues – If the association decides to charge money for a public event, or lease common element space to a private entity, that income can trigger a taxable event and require the association to work with its accountant to be sure that the proper taxes are paid on that income.

5. Owner Dissatisfaction – Separate and apart from the legal and liability issues, most unit owners simply dislike the idea of their private communal space becoming public. That dissatisfaction can become an issue for the board.

One caveat to the leasing of space with regard to condominiums. With the increase in filming activities in Illinois, television and film crews are requesting roof and lobby access, particularly in downtown Chicago. The film crews sign a license agreement (drafted by the association attorney) which covers insurance, indemnification, and basic security and then the crew pays the association a fee. Since the licensing is to a specific group of people, rather than open to the public, ADA compliance becomes a non- issue. But all other concerns (liability, taxable income, security) remain considerations.

Maintaining Security When the Crowd Turns Rowdy

In 1969, peace and love may have been prominent themes from the original Woodstock event. Forty years later in 2019, associations may have to tread more carefully when addressing unforeseeable circumstances that can arise with unruly attendees. Association board members, employees or even management (“authority figure”) should be prepared to address unexpected disturbances using specific intervention techniques. Before intervening, the authority figure should assess the condition of each of the participants and note slurred speech, droopy eyes, or other indicators of someone under the influence of intoxicants.


As an authority figure in the room, certain circumstances should be addressed directly. This direct approach may sound like “Unfortunately, smoking is not allowed here but you can feel free to do so 15 feet from the building entrance.” This approach is most effective in situations where the person violating the rules of the association knows and/ or trusts the authority figure including regular resident or meeting attendees. However, for intoxicated scofflaws, this technique could further inflame the situation and create a feeling of defensiveness and have the opposite of the desired effect.


Oftentimes, tensions can be defused by simply distracting one or both of the agitated individuals. For example, “Didn’t I see you at the movie theater last week? How did you like the show?” These non-sequitur statements do not have to be based in fact, as the goal of using them is simply to break the focus of someone who is agitated or upset. This avenue of intervention is often effective when addressing those who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as those parties succumb to distraction more quickly and with less resistance than those who are not.

Defer to others (including authorities)

Direct engagement or tactful distraction may not always achieve the desired result of defusing tensions. Pressures may be running high, and the likelihood of a situation spiraling out of control may continue to grow.

In these

circumstances, the authority figure should seek out additional support at handling conflict. Identifying a friend of one of the participants to help calm down the situation or separating the two individuals through distraction with the help of a known party to the participants can help end the confrontation. However, if a crime has been committed including assault, vandalism, threats, or other abusive behavior or language, the authority figure should not hesitate to defer the matter to authorities. Physical intervention should never be attempted, and the authorities are specifically trained in de-escalation techniques to address the matter or remove the offenders from the venue.

50 | COMMON INTEREST® • Summer 2019 • A Publication of CAI-Illinois Chapter

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