Associations usually regulate short-term rentals
Q. I am interested in leasing my unit for weekends, or other short terms, as a vacation rental for those times when I am traveling. Is this permitted in associations?
A. Most declarations include language that establishes a minimum term for a lease. Vacation rentals often run afoul of such a provision, and the association could stop you from these short-term vacation rentals.
I've also seen situations where a unit owner leases out individual rooms in their unit to strangers, for short-term vacation rentals, while the owner continues to live in the unit. While that just sounds like a ridiculously risky proposition, this too would violate the provisions of most declarations.
Q. One of the owners in our association plays their television and radio at incredibly loud levels. It disturbs all of their surrounding neighbors. Can the board take any action to address this situation?
A. The typical declaration prohibits an owner from engaging in noxious or offensive behavior, or behavior that is an annoyance to other residents. The board can levy a fine for a violation of such a covenant, after providing written notice of the violation and an opportunity for a hearing. Legal action to obtain a court order may be necessary if the owner continues to create a disturbance.
It can be difficult to prove the level of noise that is being created. Documenting the noise will be critical to convince a judge to enter an injunction. Hiring a sound engineer to take and record sound level measurements to be used as evidence of the breach of the covenants may be appropriate.
Q. Two parking spaces are assigned to my condominium unit as limited common elements. Another unit owner wants to buy one of the parking spaces from me. Can I sell him one of the parking spaces?
A. Yes. In general, an owner can transfer a limited common element parking space to another unit. This requires the recording of an amendment to the association's declaration. However, an amendment of this type only requires approval of the owners involved in the transaction, and not the majority of owners in the association required for other types of amendments.
The association's legal counsel should be involved in the preparation of such an amendment. However, the legal fees incurred by the association should be reimbursed to the association by the owners involved in the transaction.
Note this is different from when parking spaces are actual units. In that case, the transfer of the parking space would be by way of a deed, just like the sale of the residential unit.
Q. There are multiple buildings in our condominium association. We would like each building to have a representative on the board. Can our governing documents be amended to require that at least one board member be elected from each of the buildings?
A. No. The Condominium Property Act provides that members of the board are to be elected at large from among all of the unit owners.
Legislative update: An important change was recently made to the Chicago Condominium Ordinance. The city law now provides much clearer guidance to associations with respect to the books and records that must be made available to owners for inspection. Associations also have more time to provide books and records to an owner. Almost mirroring language in the Illinois Condominium Property Act, the ordinance now states:
"No person shall fail to allow unit owners to inspect the books and records of account for the condominium association's current and 10 immediately preceding fiscal years, including but not limited to itemized and detailed records of all receipts and expenditures, within 30 business days of the time written request for examination of the records is received."
• 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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