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posted: 8/25/2012 5:17 AM

Resources to help new association board members

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Q. All of the board members of our association are first-time owners in an association. Are there resources out there that we can take advantage of which provide education and other information to associations?

A. There are abundant resources available to association boards. These include trade associations and publications targeted to associations. The trade associations provide education through seminars, webinars, magazines and newsletters. They also conduct trade shows, and other networking events, where board members can meet vendors and professionals who concentrate in providing goods and services to community associations.

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The publications provide content that relate to the successful operation of community associations. These organizations and publications have extensive websites where you can view information on their offerings.

Here is web and contact information for the leading trade associations and publications, in no particular order:

Community Associations Institute, Illinois Chapter, www.cai-illinois.org, (847) 301-7505; Association of Condominium, Townhouse and Homeowners Associations, www.atcha.org, (312) 987-1906.

Condo Lifestyles is a quarterly publication, www.condolifestyles.net, (630) 932-5551. The Chicagoland Cooperator is a monthly publication, www.chicagocooperator.com, (212) 683-5700. These publishers also conduct trade shows and networking events.

Law firms that specialize in representing homeowners associations, such as mine, also provide seminars, webinars and newsletters of value to board members. More information is available at www.ksnlaw.com.

And of course, this column is full of useful and timely information for board members!

Q. A board member of our association berates and makes personal attacks on other board members in front of the owners when decisions don't go his way. What is the proper protocol for board members to follow when they don't agree with a board decision?

A. Spirited debate about an issue before a board vote is valuable. However, once a decision is made, the board must speak with one voice, particularly on controversial issues. All board members need to support properly adopted decisions of the board, even if a board member does not agree with it. Otherwise, the board will appear unprofessional and will quickly loose the confidence and support of the owners. The board should meet with this board member to address its concerns. If the conduct continues, the board should consider taking steps to remove this person from the board.

Q. You previously wrote about amending an association's declaration to limit the number of units that can be leased at one time. How does the association address who can lease their unit when the maximum number of units is being leased?

A. Rules should be adopted by the board that provide for the creation of a "wait list." Unit owners would be placed on the wait list in the order in which a notice of intention to lease is received by the board from the owner. When the total number of units being leased falls below the maximum number of units that can be leased, the person at the top of the list would be given an opportunity to lease their unit. The rules should also provide a time limit for the person at the top of the list to find a tenant and sign a lease. If the owner fails to find a tenant and present a signed lease by that time, the next person on the wait list would be given the same opportunity. The rules would have to contain more detail than this, but this should give you a sense of what is involved.

Q. We have experienced some vandalism and thefts from cars in the parking lot of our association. Security cameras don't do enough to deter these incidents. The board is considering establishing volunteer patrols of the lot, comprised of residents of the association. What's the risk of this proposal?

A. As recent events in Florida reveal, security may be best left to the professionals. This proposal exposes the association to liability on many fronts. If a member of the patrol is injured while on patrol, whether in an altercation with a third party or otherwise, the association is exposed to liability. If a member of the patrol injures a third party while on patrol, the association is exposed to liability. If a member of the association is injured or suffers property damage by a third party, they may claim that the patrol did not perform, and the association is exposed to liability. A neighborhood watch system, whereby residents simply pay closer attention to things and report suspicious behavior to authorities and to the board, may be a better approach.

Accolades: On a personal note, congratulations to my retired partner and past author of this column, Jordan Shifrin, who was recently awarded the Condo Lifestyles Lifetime Achievement Award.

• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in Buffalo Grove. Send questions for the column to him at CondoTalk@ksnlaw.com. The firm provides legal service to condominium, townhouse, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives. This column is not a substitute for consultation with legal counsel.

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