CONDOMINIUM UNITS IN FORECLOSURE DURING A RISING REAL ESTATE MARKET

In 2017, Illinois had the fourth highest rate of foreclosure filings in the United States. While the overall number of foreclosures being filed is decreasing, foreclosures continue to present issues for condominium associations throughout the state.

Generally speaking, a mortgage foreclosure of a condominium unit is a straight forward process.  When a condominium unit owner fails to pay his or her mortgage, the bank files a lawsuit asking that the condominium unit be sold at public auction and that the funds from the sale be applied to the unpaid mortgage.  Over the past decade, it has been a near certainty that a condominium unit sold at foreclosure auction would fetch a price less than what was owed to the bank.  While the condominium association was named as a defendant in the foreclosure action, there was typically no need for it to expend time and money participating, as there was no money left over from the foreclosure sale to go towards unpaid common expenses.

Now, however, this is not always the case for condominium associations.  Rising home values have resulted in an increasing number of condominium units being sold at foreclosure auction for an amount greater than what the bank is owed.  This results in a “surplus,” which is to be used to pay other lien holders, including condominium associations, which have a lien for unpaid common expenses pursuant to Section 9(g)(1) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act and their respective Declaration.

Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as just asking a court to turn over the surplus funds to the Association.  Assuming the condominium association was named as a defendant in the lawsuit (as Section 9(g)(1) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act requires), by the time the association realizes a surplus exists it is likely the association has been held in default for failing to take action once served with the foreclosure suit.  Some judges have found that a condominium association that has been held in default is not entitled to recover unpaid common expenses from the surplus funds.  Even more frustrating, it is possible these surplus funds will be turned over to the former owner of the condominium unit, despite the fact that this owner failed to pay their proportionate share of the common expenses during their period of ownership!

Beyond preserving its right to collect any surplus funds, there is another reason for a condominium association to strongly consider participating in the foreclosure of a unit.  Section 9(g)(4) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act provides that the purchaser of a condominium unit at a foreclosure sale (or, in the event the unit is purchased by the foreclosing bank, the subsequent purchaser) must pay any unpaid common expenses for the unit which became due during the 6 months “immediately preceding institution of an action to enforce the collection of assessments.”  In short, while the foreclosure of a condominium unit extinguishes the association’s lien for unpaid common expenses, the association is still able to collect 6 months of unpaid common expenses provided it instituted an action to collect them.  One option a condominium association has is to institute their collection action by filing a counter-claim against the owner in the foreclosure case itself.  While instituting a collection action may seem onerous, the Illinois Condominium Property Act also affords a condominium association the right to collect the attorney’s fees and costs form this future owner, along with the 6 months of unpaid common expenses.

To summarize, increasing home values are causing a dramatic increase in frequency and amount of surplus funds being available after foreclosure sales.  In the event a condominium association fails to appear and file a responsive pleading in the foreclosure, it could be precluded from collecting unpaid common expenses from the surplus finds.  Further, and regardless of whether the foreclosure sale results in a surplus, a condominium association is able to collect 6 months of assessments, attorney’s fees, and costs from a future owner, provided that it has instituted an action to collect these unpaid common expenses.  This means that, except in limited circumstances, a condominium association should strongly consider filing an appearance and responsive pleading when served with a foreclosure, as doing so will entitle it to recover unpaid common expenses in the event of a surplus, obtain 6 months of assessments, attorneys, fees, and costs from a future owner of the unit, or both.

 

TIME TO UPDATE RULES AND REGULATIONS REGARDING

CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION RECORD REQUESTS AND USES FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES

With the adoption of Public Act 100-0292, which will take effect on January 1, 2018, several significant changes will take place with respect to the rights of owners within condominium associations to inspect and copy records of a condominium association as outlined in the Condominium Property Act (765 ILCS 605/19).  One significant change that will occur is that owners will be entitled to obtain from their condominium association the e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of their fellow owners, in addition to those owners’ names and addresses.  Accordingly, it is important for condominium association boards to review their procedures for handling such requests.

An owner requesting the names, addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of their fellow owners, as well as requesting to see copies of ballots and proxies from recent owner votes, may only make such a request for a purpose that relates to the association.  To help make sure that owners are not requesting this information for purposes unrelated to the association, Section 19(e) of the Condominium Property Act provides that a condominium association may require an owner requesting this information to certify in writing that the information contained in the records will not be used by the owner for any commercial purpose or any other purpose that does not relate to the association.  Additionally, condominium association boards of directors are authorized to establish and impose a fine against any owner that makes a false certification.

Therefore, in anticipation of these statutory changes that will take effect on January 1, 2018, condominium association boards may want to consider taking a couple of steps before then.  The first step a condominium association board should consider taking is establishing a standard written certification form they will require any owner requesting the aforementioned information to fill out.

The second step a condominium association board should consider is adopting a fine structure that they will impose on any owner that make a false certification and uses the information provided by the condominium association for commercial purposes or other purposes unrelated to the association.  While the Condominium Property Act permits an association board to fine owners for making such a false certification, in order to impose a fine a board must first take the steps necessary to vote to establish and adopt a fine for this purpose.  While the statutory changes will not take effect until January 1, 2018, boards can act now to put a fine structure in place prior to January 1, 2018.

If your condominium association has questions about the changes that will take effect on January 1, 2018 and/or would like assistance in preparing a certification form and/or fine structure as outlined in this article, please feel free to contact our office and one of our attorneys would be happy to assist you.

 

This article is being provided for informational purposes only.  This article does not constitute legal advice on the part of Keay & Costello, P.C. or any of its attorneys.  No association, board member or any other individual or entity should rely on this article as a basis for any action or actions.  If you would like legal advice regarding any of the topics discussed in this article and/or recommended procedures for your association going forward, please contact our office. 

 

OMNIBUS HOUSE BILL 0189

With the recent votes in the Illinois Legislature, it appears that the current legislative session has come to a close.   As of July 10, 2017, only one significant piece of community association legislation has passed both houses.  HB0189 consolidated several other bills into a single omnibus bill.  This article discusses the changes to both the Common Interest Community Association Act, and the Illinois Condominium Property Act, which are encompassed in this bill.  It was sent to the Governor for signature on June 27, 2017.

COMMON INTEREST COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION ACT CHANGES 

  • Creates a New Section 1-20(e) involving amendments to governing documents. The language provides that approval or consent of a mortgage holder (if required by an association’s governing documents) can be implied if the mortgagee or lienholder receives notice of the proposed amendment and fails to respond after 60 days.    This change will allow associations whose membership has approved of an amendment to pass their agreed upon changes without being limited by lack of response from mortgagees or lienholders.
  • Creates a New Section 1-45 (i) which will require that any association with 100 or more units/homes use “generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)” in fulfilling any statutory accounting obligations.

ILLINOIS CONDOMINIUM PROPERTY ACT CHANGES 

  • Creates a New Section 9(c)(5). Grants the board the authority (unless there are explicit terms and provisions to the contrary in the declaration and by-laws) at the end of any fiscal year, to dispose of surplus funds of the association by either: (1) contributing the surplus to reserves; (2) crediting the surplus against owners’ assessments; (3) returning the surplus as a direct payment to the owners; or (4) maintaining the funds in the operating account and applying such funds to the following year’s annual budget.  Additionally, the new language provides owners the ability to object to the board’s action regarding the surplus, similar to owners’ right to reject a budget or special assessment found in Section 18(a)(8) of the Act.
  • Amends Section 15 “Sale of property.” In the event the sale of the entire condominium property achieves the requisite percentage of vote, any unit owner who opposed such sale, and filed a written objection, would be entitled to the greater of the fair appraised value of the unit or the balance of any outstanding debt (mortgage/liens) against the unit.  Further, the new language provides that the objecting owner would also be entitled to receive a reimbursement for “reasonable relocation costs” as determined by federal law.  The changes to this section would apply to any pending contracts for sale of the entire property.
  • Amends Section 18(a)(8) of the Act. Currently the Act provides that owners shall have the right to object to any regular or special assessment increase, in excess of 115% of the prior year, by a petition signed by twenty percent (20%) of the votes of an association, and submitted to the board within 14 days of the action.  The change increases the amount of time to file such petition to 21 days.
  • Amends Section 18(a) (16) of the Act. Currently the Act provides that owners shall have the right to object to any contract entered into with a current board member, a board member’s immediate family or a company which the board member has a 25% or greater interest in, by filing a petition within 20 days of such action.  The change increases the amount of time to file such petition to 30 days.
  • Amends Section 18(b)(9)(C) of the Act. Currently the Act provides if the Board passes a rule eliminating proxies at an election and requiring the owners to vote by ballot, the owners shall have the right to object to such rule by filing a petition within 14 days of such action.  The change increases the amount of time to file such petition to 30 days.
  • Amends Section 18.4 (a) of the Act. Currently the Act provides that owners shall have the right to object to a capital improvement approved by the board in excess of 5% of the annual budget (not maintenance, repair or replacement of existing portions of the common elements) by petition signed by owners with twenty percent (20%) of the votes of the Association within 14 days of the action.  The change increases the amount of time to file such petition to 21 days.
  • Creates a new Section 18.10 of the Act which will require that any association with 100 or more units use “generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)” in fulfilling any statutory accounting obligations.
  • Amends Section 19 “Records of the association; availability for examination” of the Act. The amendment is an attempt to permit owners greater access to records of an association.  Importantly records of an association must be made available within “10 business days” of receipt of the owner’s request to inspect.   Additionally, the amendment removed the portion of the statute which required a “proper purpose” to review certain records.   Further, the amendment includes permitting the inspection of owners’ email addresses and phone numbers, in addition to names and addresses.  However, the legislation provides that an association can require any member examining or copying records related to other owners’ information to certify that such information will not be used for a “commercial purpose.”  Finally, the amendment authorizes the board of directors to fine a member who violates the certification.
  • Amends Section 27 “Amendments.” The language provides that approval or consent of a mortgage holder (if required by the association’s governing documents) can be implied if the mortgagee or lienholder receives notice of the proposed amendment and fails to respond after 60 days.    This change will allow associations whose membership has approved of an amendment to pass their agreed upon changes without being limited by lack of response from mortgagees or lienholders.
  • Amends Section 31. The new language amends Section 31 (subdivision or combination of units) of the Act to define “combination of units.”  Importantly the new language establishes that in the event of a combination of units, use of limited common elements or common elements is not a diminution of other owners’ interest and, despite other language in the Act, shall not require the unanimous consent of all owners.

This article is being provided for informational purposes only.  This article does not constitute legal advice on the part of Keay & Costello, P.C. or any of its attorneys.  No association, board member or any other individual or entity should rely on this article as a basis for any action or actions.  If you would like legal advice regarding any of the topics discussed in this article and/or recommended procedures for your association going forward, please contact our office. 

 

COMMON AREA ISSUES

Most associations have common areas.  These can range from simply a detention pond or two and/or maybe a few subdivision entry signs for a large detached single-family home community on one end of the scale to recreational facilities (such as a clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, etc.), parking lots and lakes used for recreational activities (such as boating, fishing, and swimming) on the other end of the scale.  While the type of common area an association has will largely dictate the maintenance, insurance and potentially staffing responsibilities of the association, there are several common issues we have come across that all associations with common areas need to consider which this article will address.

What are the Common Areas?

The first issue with common areas that an association, and the board members running the association, need to address is what are the specific common areas for the association.  While this may at first seem like a simple question, the answer is not always straight-forward.  What constitutes the common areas of an association is typically identified within the association’s declaration.  These could be defined by reference to a specific set of lots (e.g. lots A, B and C on the plat of subdivision), or could instead refer to all areas identified on the plat of subdivision as common areas.  Either way, the association will likely need to refer to the recorded plat(s) of subdivision to determine what area(s) are legally part of the common areas that the association is responsible for.

Where I have seen this particular question cause issues for associations is where an association assumes it knows what the common areas are without referring to the declaration.  For example, this could occur with a partially developed community where the association assumes that certain open areas are part of the common area the association is responsible for when, in fact, the developer that created the association never made those open areas part of the common area for the association in the declaration.  Therefore, if an association has not already done so, it would be a good idea to verify via the association’s declaration what all of the common areas for the association are.

Who Owns the Common Area?

According to most declarations, the association should own the common area.  Many declarations even specifically set a date or deadline by when the developer will transfer title to the common areas to the association via deed that is recorded with the county recorder of deeds, with the date/deadline often being by the turnover date or some period of time shortly thereafter.

However, a common issue we have found with a number of associations is that while the declaration states that the association is to receive a deed for title to the common areas, this does not always occur.  In these cases, for some reason, the developer fails to prepare a deed transferring title to the common areas to the association.  When this occurs, the official ownership of the common areas remains in the name of the developer, even if the developer has gone out of business or otherwise moved on.  If this failure is not discovered promptly and while the developer is still involved with the association, this can create problems for the association in correcting this which may ultimately require the association to file a lawsuit to obtain a judicial deed for the common areas.

Having recorded title to the common areas in the association’s name is important for a number of reasons.  Amongst these is that having title in the association’s name may be necessary to properly insure the common areas, and that without being the recorded title holder, the association likely will not receive relevant notices pertaining to the common areas such as property tax notices.

Thus, if an association does not have a deed showing the association as the recorded owner for the common areas, or is not sure if it has such a deed, the association would be prudent to verify that it has been given this title to the common areas by a deed which is recorded with the applicable county recorder of deeds.  If no such deed exists, the association would be wise to consult with its attorney to attempt to obtain this deed to make sure the association is shown as the official owner of the common areas.

Are the Common Areas Being Properly Taxed?

According to the Property Tax Code of the Illinois Revenue Act (35 ILCS 200/10-35), association common areas that are used for recreational and other similar residential purposes are to be assessed at a value of $1.00 each year, meaning that the association should not have to pay any property taxes on the common areas.  However, we are aware of several associations where the applicable taxing authority incorrectly assessed the common areas at a higher value which resulted in property taxes being charged to the association.  While each county handles this issue in a slightly different manner, what is common amongst all of the counties we have worked with on this issue is that time is of the essence to correct this issue and delays can be costly for associations.  Some counties have a short window of time when assessed value appeals can be filed and if an association misses that window of time it can be out of luck and forced to pay the property taxes that were levied at the incorrect assessed value rate.

Another significant issue that may arise is that common area property taxes, like property taxes for residences, can be sold if they are not paid by the owner on time.  Further, if the sold property taxes are not redeemed by the owner within the allotted time, a tax sale can occur which means that the person that purchased the unpaid property taxes can then become the owner of the property.  In other words, if an association’s common areas are improperly charged property taxes and the association fails to pay these and they are sold to a tax sale buyer, the association could eventually lose ownership of the common areas.

Therefore, it is important for an association to verify that its common areas are being properly assessed at a $1.00 value by the applicable taxing authority.  Additionally, an association should make sure that the applicable taxing authority has tax bills being sent to the association at a current address for the association.  This is important so that the association will be notified should the common area assessed value change in the future.

Conclusion:

Regardless of whether an association has significant common areas with multiple recreational facilities or merely one or two open space common areas, it is important for the association to verify that it has legal, recorded title to these common areas and that they are being properly assessed for property tax purposes.  If your association is not sure about the answer to any of the questions raised in this article about your common areas, or is aware of an issue with your common areas that you need legal guidance with, please feel free to contact our office and one of our attorneys would be happy to assist you.

This article is being provided for informational purposes only.  This article does not constitute legal advice on the part of Keay & Costello, P.C. or any of its attorneys.  No association, board member or any other individual or entity should rely on this article as a basis for any action or actions.  If you would like legal advice regarding any of the topics discussed in this article and/or recommended procedures for your association going forward, please contact our office. 

 

HUD ANNOUNCES NEW FHA OWNER OCCUPANCY REQUIREMENTS

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), recently published Mortgagee Letter 2016-15, which modified the owner occupancy requirements for condominium associations seeking Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) approval.  Prior to the adoption of Mortgagee Letter 2016-15, a condominium association with an owner occupancy rate of under fifty percent (50%) could not be granted FHA approval.  With the adoption of Mortgagee Letter 2016-15, however, condominium associations with owner occupancy rates as low as thirty-five percent (35%) may be eligible for FHA approval, provided they meet certain additional requirements.

Specifically, a condominium association with an owner occupancy rate between thirty-five percent (35%) and fifty percent (50%) may be eligible for FHA approval if it meets the following additional requirements:

 1.  The association’s financial documents (i.e. budget, balance sheet, and income and expense statement) provide for the funding of replacement reserves for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance at a level of at least twenty percent (20%) of the total annual budget for the association.

     For condominium associations with an owner occupancy rate of at least fifty percent (50%), the reserve contribution requirement is ten percent (10%) of the annual budget.  So, HUD’s minimum reserve contribution requirement for associations with under fifty percent (50%) owner occupancy rates is double the minimum reserve contribution requirement for associations with at least fifty percent (50%) owner occupancy rates.

2.  No more than ten percent (10%) of the total units in the association may be delinquent by more than sixty (60) days on assessment payments to the association.

     For condominium associations with an owner occupancy rate of at least fifty percent (50%), the delinquency requirement is that no more than fifteen percent (15%) of the total units in the association may be delinquent by more than sixty (60) days on assessment payments to the association.  So, HUD is requiring associations with under fifty percent (50%) owner occupancy rates to have significantly fewer units delinquent by more than sixty (60) days on assessment payments to the association then it requires for associations with at least fifty percent (50%) owner occupancy rates.

3.   The association must provide financial documents (i.e. budget, balance sheet, and income and expense statement) for the previous three (3) years.

      For condominium associations with an owner occupancy rate of at least fifty percent (50%), HUD requires only the current year budget, a balance sheet that is no more than ninety (90) days old, and an income and expense statement from the prior fiscal year end as well as one that is no more than ninety (90) days old.  Thus, HUD is requiring associations with under fifty percent (50%) owner occupancy rates to provide financial documents for two (2) additional prior fiscal years as compared to what it requires for associations with at least fifty percent (50%) owner occupancy rates.

4.   The association must apply for FHA approval through the HRAP process.

The HRAP process means the association submits its application directly to a HUD office for review.  Associations with at least fifty percent (50%) owner occupancy rates also have the ability to apply for FHA approval through the DELRAP process, whereby an authorized lender has the ability to grant the association FHA approval.  It would appear that the DELRAP process is not available for associations with under fifty percent (50%) owner occupancy rates.

 

These new owner occupancy requirements announced by HUD should permit additional condominium associations to obtain FHA approval, provided that an association with an owner occupancy rate between thirty-five percent (35%) and fifty percent (50%) can also meet the new financial requirements set forth by HUD.  If your condominium association is considering applying for FHA approval and would like assistance with this process, please feel free to contact our office and one of our attorneys would be happy to assist you.

This article is being provided for informational purposes only.  This article does not constitute legal advice on the part of Keay & Costello, P.C. or any of its attorneys.  No association, board member or any other individual or entity should rely on this article as a basis for any action or actions.  If you would like legal advice regarding any of the topics discussed in this article and/or recommended procedures for your association going forward, please contact our office. 

 

NEW LAW AMENDING THE CONDOMINIUM PROPERTY ACT CLARIFIES A BOARD OF DIRECTORS’ ABILITY TO SECURE LOANS

Public Act 099-0849 was signed into law by Governor Rauner on August 19, 2016.  The new law changes the Condominium Property Act to clarify the inconsistency in within Section 18.4 of the Act.  The amendment to Section 18.4 (m) of the Act permits boards of directors, by majority vote, to execute various bank documents to secure a loan on behalf of an association.  Currently the language of Section 18.4 (m) has a qualifier relating to the “condominium instruments” and there is a concern that some old condominium declarations and by-laws may require up to two-thirds of the owners to vote when either pledging an association’s assets or assigning future income.  This change makes it clear that a board of directors, without owner approval, by majority vote can assign future income of an association and pledge the assets of an association.

This change in the Condominium Property Act takes effect January 1, 2017.

 

This article is being provided for informational purposes only.  This article does not constitute legal advice on the part of Keay & Costello, P.C. or any of its attorneys.  No association, board member or any other individual or entity should rely on this article as a basis for any action or actions.  If you would like legal advice regarding any of the topics discussed in this article and/or recommended procedures for your association going forward, please contact our office. 

 

 

THE OMBUDSPERSON:  2016 AMENDMENTS AND UPDATE

On August 12, 2016 Governor Rauner signed Public Act 99-0776 which makes several significant changes to the original Ombudsperson Act.  This article will provide quick highlights of certain changes contained in P.A. 99-0776.

Registration of Community Associations

Critical to all associations, the requirement that all common interest communities and condominium associations register with the Department of Financial and Professional Regulations has been removed.  No registration is required.

Association Internal Dispute Resolution Policies

All associations subject to the Condominium Property Act and the Common Interest Community Association Act must adopt their own policies for resolving complaints made by owners no later than January 1, 2019.  The original bill required the policies to be in place by January 1, 2017 so associations have been afforded two additional years to develop these policies.  The Act current provides that these policies must include a form on which an owner may make the complaint, a description of the process by which the complaint must be submitted, the timeline in which the Association will resolve the complaint, and the requirement that the Association make its “final” decision within 180 days.

The Current Role of the Ombudsperson

No later than July 1, 2017, the ombudsperson is to begin offering training, outreach and educational materials to the public and it may also offer courses related to the management and operation of community associations, the Condominium Property Act and the Common Interest Community Association Act.  The ombudsperson is to also offer a toll-free number for contact and inquiry purposes in addition to providing information regarding alternative dispute resolution providers (arbitrators, mediators) and methods available to communities and their members.  The ombudsperson does not have authority to consider any matters involving claims under the Illinois Human Rights Act or that are properly brought before the Department of Human Rights or the Illinois Human Rights Commission.  The amendments to the Act provide that certain information reported to the Ombudsperson is not be subject to certain Freedom of Information Act requests.

Reporting to the General Assembly

The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is required to provide its first written report of the ombudsperson’s activities to the General Assembly no later than July 1, 2018 and beginning in 2019, annual reports of the office’s activity are to be filed no later than October 1st. It is expected that the General Assembly and administration will use these reports to evaluate the proper, future role of the ombudsperson.

NEW CHICAGO ORDINANCE DETERS OWNERS FROM ENTERING INTO SHORT-TERM AND VACATION LEASES IN VIOLATION OF COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION GOVERNING DOCUMENTS

Many, if not most, community association declarations prohibit owners from leasing their units for transient or hotel purposes.  While these types of restrictions have historically been uncontroversial and infrequently violated, the increasing popularity of peer-to-peer rental services such as AirBnB, VRBO, and HomeAway are quickly changing this.  These services make short-term and vacation leasing by owner very convenient and in turn created enforcement and administrative nightmares for community association boards of directors.

On June 22, 2016, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance further regulating short-term and vacation leasing, including adding additional registration requirements for owners within community associations leasing looking to lease their units for short-term or vacation purposes.  A link to the text of the ordinance is contained here, and below is an outline of some of the changes that significantly affect community associations:

 The ordinance:

  1. Allows community associations to submit an affidavit stating that short-term and vacation leasing is prohibited within the community association. This affidavit can attest that the prohibition was established be either 1) a vote of the Board (i.e., an amendment to the rules and regulations) or 2) a restrictive covenant contained in the association’s declaration or bylaws.  Upon receipt of this affidavit, the commissioner must maintain a “Prohibited Buildings List,” which shall be posted on the City of Chicago’s website.  In the event a community association is included on this “Prohibited Buildings List,” an owner cannot obtain a license to lease his or her unit for short-term or vacation purposes.

(While it has long been our opinion that most community associations have the right to restrict leasing via a board adopted rule (see Apple II Condominium Association v. Worth Bank & Trust Co.) this provision would appear to be the City of Chicago’s recognition that short-term and vacation leasing can be prohibited by a community association’s board of directors, not soley through a restriction approved by the members.  While this acknowledgement by the City of Chicago is far from an absolute guarantee that a courts will uphold short-term and vacation leasing restrictions adopted via rule, it certainly aids a community association’s efforts to defend such a rule’s validity and enforceability.)

  1. Provides limits on the number of units within a community association building that can be leased for short-term or vacation purposes. In community association buildings with two (2) to four (4) units, only one unit per building can be rented.  In community association buildings with more than five (5) units, short-term and vacation rental leases will be limited to either six (6) units or one-quarter (1/4) of the total number of units, whichever is less.
  1. Requires that any owner seeking to list his or her unit as a short-term or vacation rental first register with the City of Chicago and pay a licensing fee. Further, this application requires the owner to attest that the 1) community association has not adopted prohibitions of vacation rentals, and that that 2) the leasing limits (discussed above) have not been reached.
  1. Prohibits on-line platform companies (i.e., Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, etc.) from permitting advertisements of units ineligible to be leased for short-term or vacation purposes, including, advertisements for those units within a community association on the City of Chicago’s “Prohibited Building List.” Further, the ordinance provides penalties for on-line platform companies failing to comply this prohibition on advertising ineligible units.
  1. To ensure compliance, the ordinance establishes certain penalties for those violating the ordinance., including fines of $1,500 to $3,000 per offense, with each day that a violation exists treated as a separate and distinct offense. More egregious violations, such as criminal activity or public nuisance, will be subject to a fines of $2,500 to $5,000 per offense.

The passage of this ordinance is definitely good news for community associations struggling with owners leasing units in violation of short-term and vacation leasing restrictions, as it unquestionably discourages such violations.  That being said, the restrictions created by this ordinance are only enforceable by the City of Chicago, and therefore its effectiveness will be completely dependent upon the City of Chicago’s willingness, and ability, to enforce its provisions.  While community associations located within the City of Chicago which prohibit short-term and vacation leasing should certainly take the necessary steps to be included on the City of Chicago’s “Prohibited Building List,” ultimate enforcement may still fall at the hands of the board.

If you or your community association within the City of Chicago are interested in this topic, please contact me to set up a review of your current governing documents and outline the necessary steps to allow your community association to take full advantage of this ordinance.  I can be reached at ben@keaycostello.com or 630-690-6446 x 11.

On July 15, 2016 Governor Rauner signed two important pieces of legislation for the community association industry.

CLOSED PORTIONS OF MEETINGS/EXECUTIVE SESSIONS     P.A. 099-0567

Section 18(a)(9) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act and Sec. 1-40 Common Interest Community Association Act. Meetings.

The new law changes both the Condominium Property Act and the Common Interest Community Association Act to clarify what items may be discussed by a board of directors during the closed portion of a meeting or executive session meetings.  Importantly, the new law the specifies that board members can meet in a closed portion of a noticed meeting, or separate from a noticed meeting to discuss certain enumerated executive matters.  The act details that Boards may discuss engagement, interviewing and dismissal of employees, independent contractors, agent or providers of goods and services.    Finally, the law makes it clear the Board members can meet with legal counsel outside to the presence of an open meeting.

SUCCESSOR DEVELOPERS – P.A. 099-0569

Sec. 1-15 Common Interest Community Association Act and Sections 4.1 and 18.5 (j) Illinois Condominium Property Act

The new law changes both the Common Interest Community Association Act and the Condominium Property Act to require successor developers to obtain written assignment of developer (declarant) rights and to require the successor to record the assignment prior to it being effective.  This alleviates the situation where a bank or subsequent purchasers of undeveloped portions of an association contends “they are the new declarant” without having anything in writing.

 

LEASING RESTRICTIONS AFTER STOBE v. 842-848 WEST BRADLEY PLACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION

Recently, on February 3, 2016, the Illinois First District Appellate Court, Third Division, issued a ruling in the case of Stobe v. 842-848 West Bradley Place Condominium Association (2016 IL App (1st) 141427) pertaining to certain leasing restrictions within condominium associations.  At this time, this case is binding on all condominium associations within the First Appellate District (e.g. those within Cook County, Illinois) and could be viewed as persuasive as to associations located elsewhere in Illinois.  This Article is a summary of the Stobe case.

Summary of Stobe case

In Stobe, the plaintiff owners purchased a condominium unit within the defendant condominium association for purposes of renting out the unit.  The association’s declaration did not contain any express right of owners to lease their units, but rather included restrictions on owners leasing their units such that no units could be leased for transient or hotel purposes or for terms of less than six (6) months.  The article in the association’s declaration pertaining to leasing did not include a specific right of the association board to adopt further rules pertaining to leasing.  The association’s declaration and bylaws did contain elsewhere general language regarding the board’s ability to adopt rules and some specific language regarding the board’s ability to adopt rules pertaining to other types of restrictions.

The plaintiffs in Stobe purchased their condominium unit in late 2005, and then the association board adopted rules in July 2010 that placed a cap on the number of units that could be leased at any given time of thirty percent (30%).  In 2012, the association sought to enforce its leasing cap and evict the plaintiffs’ tenants which prompted the plaintiffs to file a lawsuit against the association declaring the board adopted leasing cap invalid.

The court in Stobe decided that the board adopted rule placing a cap on leasing was invalid because it conflicted with the association’s declaration.  While the association’s declaration did not contain an express right for owners to lease their units, the court determined that owners did have a right to lease their units because the association’s declaration contained certain restrictions related to leasing (i.e. the prohibition on leasing for transient or hotel purposes or for less than six (6) months) and these restrictions would be meaningless if owners did not have the right to lease their units.  Thus, the court reasoned that because the association’s declaration granted owners the right to lease their units, a board adopted rule could not take away this right.

Additionally, the court focused on the fact that elsewhere in the association’s declaration where restrictions were enumerated there was express language included that the board could adopt rules related to those particular restrictions, but there was not similar language in the article of the declaration that included the leasing restrictions.  Thus, the court held that because “the declaration has spoken on the matter of leasing, any augmentation or diminution of plaintiffs’ right to lease their unit must be accomplished through an amendment to the declaration, not a rule promulgated by the Board.”

For the past couple of decades, the seminal case in Illinois regarding leasing restrictions adopted by associations has been Apple II Condominium Ass’n v. Worth Bank & Trust Co., 277 Ill.App.3d 345 (1995).  For our summary of this case, please visit our website at (http://www.keaycostello.com/board-operations/the-return-of-leasing-and-restrictions-at-associations).  The Stobe court discussed the Apple II case but found it inapplicable because Apple II addressed a leasing restriction adopted by an amendment to a declaration as opposed to a leasing restriction adopted by a board which, in the Stobe court’s determination, conflicted with the association’s declaration.  While the Apple II court discussed the possibility of a board adopting leasing restrictions, the Stobe court found this discussion non-binding on it since Apple II did not actually involve a leasing restriction adopted by a board rule.

The Stobe court also discussed the case of Board of Directors of 175 East Delaware Place Homeowners Ass’n v. Hinojosa, 287 Ill.App.3d 886 (1997), which dealt with a board adopted rule prohibiting owners from having additional dogs.  The Stobe court reasoned that the Hinojosa case did not apply because in Hinojosa the association’s declaration did not contain any language related to dog ownership and therefore the board’s rule to prohibit new dogs did not conflict with any language within the declaration.

Going Forward

For some associations, the Stobe case provides clear guidance going forward.  For other associations, though, the Stobe case potentially raises more questions than it does provide answers.

For those associations that have any language or restrictions related to leasing within their declaration, if the articles/sections related to leasing do not have language specifically permitting the board to adopt rules related to leasing, the Stobe case would indicate that the boards for these associations are not permitted to adopt any rules or regulations related to leasing.  Any further restrictions related to leasing would need to be adopted through an amendment to the association’s declaration.

For those associations that have language or restrictions related to leasing within their declaration, if the articles/sections related to leasing do have language specifically permitting the board to adopt rules related to leasing, the Stobe case would indicate that the boards for these associations could adopt additional rules and regulations related to leasing as long as such rules and regulations do not conflict with the terms of the declaration.

On the other hand, if an association’s declaration contains no language related to leasing, the Stobe decision would seem to indicate that associations could adopt leasing restrictions through either a declaration amendment or through rules adopted by the board as further discussed in the Apple II case.

Additionally, the Stobe case raises questions regarding whether the court’s ruling could extend beyond just leasing restrictions.  For example, if an association’s declaration contains restrictions on a particular topic (such as pets, recreational activities, parking, storage of items, etc.), and does not contain language within such sections specifically providing that the board may adopt rules on these particular topics, the Stobe decision raises the question of whether or not the board would be able to adopt any rules on such topics.  The Stobe case solely dealt with leasing restrictions, so it cannot conclusively be applied to other types of restrictions at this point, but this does nevertheless put associations on notice that future courts could expand the reasoning from Stobe to other types of restrictions besides leasing restrictions.

As we did before the Stobe case was decided, our firm continues to highly recommend that any association seeking to adopt restrictions on leasing do so through an amendment to the declaration as opposed to a rule adopted by the board.  If your association is considering adopting restrictions on leasing, or already has such restrictions in place and would like them reviewed, please feel free to contact our office and one of our attorneys would be happy to assist you.

 

This article is being provided for informational purposes only.  This article does not constitute legal advice on the part of Keay & Costello, P.C. or any of its attorneys.  No association, board member or any other individual or entity should rely on this article as a basis for any action or actions.  If you would like legal advice regarding any of the topics discussed in this article and/or recommended procedures for your association going forward, please contact our office.