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What’s the consequence? “It has to be in the Rules for us “ to “I to approve it.”

“Practically speaking it is impossible to anticipate every scenario that may arise and address these in the rules and regulations. Requests related to matters that are not covered by the documents need to be handled on a case by case, and consistent, basis. Most Declarations have generic wording about ‘exterior changes needing to be approved’ to address these decisions, but this needs to be looked at closely, as the board may only have authority to approve certain types of changes or work in specific locations,” points out Attorney Douglas J. Sury from Keay & Costello, P.C. in Wheaton, Illinois. The board can make a decision without having to pass a resolution or rewriting the rules to include addressing this item. This is one of the reasons the board exists.

What’s the consequence?

If a new rule is passed every time something small comes up, the rules & regulations will quickly be overwhelming; hundreds of pages long instead of a useful document for governance of the association. “Rules address conduct of the owners - what they can and cannot do, things that the association has the ability to levy a fine for,” Bickley reminds; not administrative actions regarding the day to day running of the association. On the other hand, if the request is something that may start to come up frequently, i.e., installation of exterior venting for new high efficiency furnaces, this is an opportunity for the board to be proactive and develop a guideline for addressing requests of this nature in the future. Since the board has recently had the discussions on the pros and cons of the issue, after making a decision on the request at hand, it is a great time to approve an addendum or update to the rules or property architectural guidelines so the information is in place as future requests come in.

“That’s an owner responsibility, we don’t need to (or can’t) do anything.”

Just because your owners are responsible to maintain their limited common elements doesn’t mean that an association should let each homeowner choose when to paint their balcony or replace their light fixture. More seriously, just because the pipe that burst is for one unit’s kitchen sink, and the resulting damage to the neighbor is something that needs to be handled between the two owners doesn’t mean that the association shouldn’t be involved. “Although the unit owner may be responsible for the maintenance of limited common elements, it may be the association’s responsibility to insure them in the event of a covered loss. This is why it is always best to contact your agent right away,” states Kathy Kahl, Commercial Insurance Account Manager with Hollinger Services, Inc. in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.


When it comes to maintenance items like painting, if the association takes the lead board members can ensure that appearance remains consistent throughout the community, and can help obtain the best pricing for homeowners. The governing documents will confirm if the association has the authority to perform such maintenance and charge back the owners. “For leaks or other issues that can lead to mold, rot, or other structural problems, once the association is made aware of these problems, it may have an obligation to ensure that an appropriate amount of work is done to prevent further damage to other units or common areas,” advises Sury. This is particularly pertinent for vacant units where the owner has abandoned the property or a bank is in possession.

“Our community manager (or landscaper, or painter, etc) should do that.”

While there are many times where this statement may be fact and not fiction, everyone needs the occasional reminder that community managers, and all vendors for your association, have contracts they must follow. Most landscape contracts do not include dead-heading flowers, and if you want your painter to re-caulk every window, that needs to be specified in their contract. Many community managers have a portfolio of properties and must balance the needs of several communities. Managers work for the big picture items like getting competitive bids, and frequently have others in their company to assist with small day to day items like sending a new coupon book to an owner that misplaced it. This myth can even be about board members. Remind homeowners that the board consists of volunteers and they rely on professionals for guidance on their various responsibilities.

What’s the consequence?

Almost any service is available for a price. The question is, are your homeowners willing to pay those assessments? Put it in numbers: find out how much the extra service would cost, and let the homeowners know.

Don’t forget

that many times individuals go above and beyond their contracted duties to keep a client happy. Show gratitude for these extras, and don’t forget that they are just that – extras! Help homeowners have realistic expectations of what the community’s contractors are on site to do. Including FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sheets in a community newsletter or on a website can be useful for communicating to residents.

“We can’t do anything until the insurance adjustor arrives,” or its evil twin:

“We don’t want to call the insurance company until we know the extent of the damage.”

Tim Curry, State Farm Agent in Elmhurst, Illinois advises everyone to review the “Conditions” of their insurance policy. “Giving immediate notice to the insurance company

A Publication of CAI-Illinois Chapter

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