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WORD OF MOUTH BRINGS GREAT IDEAS, along with not so great ones, and community management professionals hear rumors every day that are often more hearsay than fact. It is the responsibility of that professional to help their associations learn the truth so homeowners don’t have to suffer the consequences of actions being taken because that’s “just how things are done; everyone says so.” A brief survey of community association managers came up with too many myths to list; those heard at board meetings, industry events, and many other places. What can be done to stop these myths so there are no embarrassing tricks after the buzzer sounds?


“We’ve always done it this way, so we’ve set a precedent and must continue to do it.”


“Just because the board has made illegal or poor decisions in the past doesn’t mean that they are required to continue to do so for the sake of consistency,” comments attorney John H. Bickley III from Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Depending on the specific scenario, this is a time when the association’s attorney should be consulted on the best way to handle the issue – be it a resolution, an amendment to the covenants, or something else. If it’s a relatively minor issue, such as only mailing out meeting notices until you realized that the Illinois Condo Act states they also must be posted on site, then make the correction moving forward. Changes can also happen in areas where a board decides there is room for improvement of the community. Perhaps lawn ornaments were permitted, but they are getting out of hand – so pass a rule limiting the number or ornaments permitted per unit and then, most importantly, equally enforce it for all owners.


What’s the consequence?


While ignorance of the law is not an excuse, the board members that know they are acting improperly have more liability than the board that wasn’t aware of the rule being broken. “Failure to follow the black and white advice of counsel and management could subject the individual board members to personal liability,” notes Attorney Dawn Moody of Keough & Moody, P.C. in Naperville, Illinois. If it is determined that a board is aware that an action taken was in conflict with the governing documents or state laws, both the association as well as the individual board members involved are at higher risk for lawsuits or other legal action.” The community association manager that incorrectly advises a board that the board can make these actions risks loss of their state license.


 | 


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