Q. The board of our association orders a deli tray or pizza for the board members to dine on during its early evening meetings. These meals are paid for with association funds. Is this an appropriate use of association funds?
A. Yes. It would not be inappropriate for association money to be spent on food served during a board meeting. Keep in mind that board members are volunteers giving of their time. Providing a meal to a board member giving up their dinner time to serve the association seems like a relatively small price to pay.
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Of course, the meal must be a reasonable expense. So, while a deli tray or pizza, or something similar, would be fine, lobster flown in from Maine and washed down with 18-year-old Scotch would probably not.
Q. Our condominium declaration does not refer to limited common elements at all. I understand that the Condominium Property Act defines portions of the property, like balconies, patios, perimeter doors and windows in perimeter walls as limited common elements. Does this mean the association can charge the owners the cost of the maintenance, repair and replacement of the items identified in the law as limited common elements?
A. No. This is not an uncommon issue for older associations. In order to permit an association to charge back the cost of maintenance, repair and replacement of limited common elements to an owner, the association's declaration must specifically provide for the assessment in connection with expenditures for the limited common elements, of only those units to which the limited common elements are assigned. If the declaration is silent, those expenses could not be charged back to the unit owner, regardless of whether the Act defines portions of the property as limited common element. The relevant provisions of the Act, Section 4.1(a)(5) and Section 9(e), must be read together.
Of course, the association's declaration could be amended to establish limited common elements and to provide for the expense charged back to owners.
I have also seen condominium declarations that identify portions of the property as limited common element, but that do not include the charge-back language. That a portion of the property is characterized as a limited common element would not alone permit the charge of expenditures back to owners. This is often poor drafting by the developer's counsel. Again, this could be revised by an amendment to the declaration.
Q. The parking garage in our association is part of the common elements. Historically, parking has been valet only, with no self parking. In a significant cost saving move, the board voted to eliminate valet parking, and all parking will now be self parking. Does the board have the authority to make this change, or is unit owner approval required?
A. The association's declaration does not expressly require valet parking. As such, the board, without unit owner approval, could make the business decision to eliminate valet parking in favor of self parking. Some association declarations specifically provide for valet parking. In such a circumstance, the elimination of valet parking would require an amendment to the declaration, with requisite unit owner approval.
Q. An owner in our association has moved several times without advising the board of his new address. Where is the association supposed to send notices for this owner?
A. Unless the owner provides the association with another address where the owner wants to receive notices, the typical declaration provides that notices should be sent to the owner at the unit in the association. This would include notice of meetings for which an owner is entitled to notice, notice of assessments, copies of the proposed budget and the annual accounting. The declaration for your association should be reviewed to confirm this is acceptable.
• 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.