Q. Can the board of our association adopt restrictions on the weight of dogs that are permitted to be kept on the property?
A. If the association's declaration is silent on pets, the board can adopt a reasonable rule establishing weight restrictions for dogs. Similarly, if the declaration permits pets, and includes a provision permitting the board to adopt rules regulating the size and weight of dogs, the board can probably impose the weight restriction by rule.
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However, if the declaration includes a pet provision, the conservative reading of Illinois case law provides that the weight limitation should be imposed by way of an amendment to the declaration and not merely by way of a rule. A rule alone establishing a pet weight limit, when the declaration permits pets without restriction, could be subject to a successful legal challenge.
Q. An owner set up a video camera at the beginning of our condominium association's annual meeting. Objections were raised by those in attendance, and he was told to stop the recording. He responded by stating the owners are permitted to record association meetings. He eventually stopped the recording when the men in blue were called. Can an owner record an association's annual owners' meeting?
A. The Illinois Condominium Property Act provides that any unit owner may record the proceedings at board meetings, or portions thereof required to be open to owners, by tape, film or other means. However, the board may prescribe reasonable rules and regulations to govern the right to make such recordings. The taping of meetings can be disruptive and create safety issues.
A board should address these issues by establishing rules that will ensure the least amount of disruption without impairing unit owner rights.
However, this law concerns board meetings, and there is no similar provision concerning the taping of owners' meetings like the annual meeting. Given the strict laws in Illinois concerning audio recordings, the owner was properly denied the ability to record the owners' meeting, especially given the objection.
Q. I am an owner in a condominium, and I received a letter from the association advising me that I have violated a rule and that the board has levied a fine. I thought I was entitled to a hearing before a fine could be imposed.
A. The board can levy a fine for violation of the association's rules or declaration/by-laws. A fine can only be levied by the board after the owner has been provided written notice of the violation and an opportunity for a hearing. After the hearing (if the board finds that the violation did occur), or if the owner does not request a hearing, the board can levy the fine. However, the board cannot first levy a fine and then give the owner a right to "appeal" the fine. That would violate the due process required under governing law.
Q. What can our association do if an owner does not pay their assessments?
A. There are a variety of remedies available to the association. The association can levy a reasonable late charge in the month the assessment is not paid. If the delinquency continues for 60 days, the association should pursue a forcible entry and detainer (eviction) action against the owner. This permits the association to evict the owner from his or her unit, and allows the association to lease the unit to a third party, and the rent is used to pay the arrearage. Once the account is current, possession of the unit can be returned to the owner. This is a very effective remedy, and is only available to associations in Illinois.
Q. An owner showed up to our condominium association annual meeting with several proxies. Each proxy included the printed name of the unit owner giving the proxy and described how the proxy holder was to vote. The election inspector stated that the proxy was not valid because it was not signed. Was the proxy valid?
A. A proxy must be signed and dated by the owner giving the proxy. Merely printing the owner's name on the proxy does not satisfy the signature requirement. The election inspector's determination that the unsigned proxy was invalid was correct.
• 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.