Q. Absent any specific wording in the declaration for our condominium, who is responsible for the care of windows? If it is the association that is responsible, can the board set a policy to make it the unit owners' responsibility?
A. Unless stated to the contrary in the association's declaration, windows are part other common elements, under Section 4.1(a)(2) of the Condominium Property Act. The association is responsible for maintenance, repair and replacement of common elements under Section 18.4(a) of the act.
The board cannot generally shift responsibility for this by way of a policy. However, there may be wording in the declaration to allow charging unit owners.
Windows are also be considered limited common elements under Section 4.1(a)(5) of the act. Maintenance, repair and replacement would be subject to language in the declaration, if any, regarding the ability of the board to charge owners the cost of any maintenance, repair or replacement of the limited common element windows. This is authorized under Section 9(e) of the act.
Q. I live in a common interest community association. Is the board required to provide the owners with annually audited financial statements?
A. Section 1-45(b) of the Common Interest Community Association Act requires the board to provide all members with a reasonably detailed summary of the receipts, common expenses and reserves for the preceding budget year.
In addition, that section provides that the board must either make available for review to all members an itemized accounting of the common expenses for the preceding year actually incurred or paid, together with an indication of which portions were for reserves, capital expenditures or repairs, or payment of real estate taxes and with a tabulation of the amounts collected pursuant to the budget or assessment, and showing the net excess or deficit of income over expenditures plus reserves, or the board must provide a consolidated annual independent audit report of the financial status of all fund accounts within the association.
So, in general, if the board makes the itemized accounting available to members of the association, the board would not have to provide an annual audit.
Q. In our homeowners association, we have a committee whose chairman decided it should raise money to buy items for the association. The committee has raised money through various projects, including selling objects from the building. The committee also appears to spend money as it wishes. All this was done without any board approval. Just how much authority does a committee and/or the committee chairman have?
A. A committee and the chairman have only that authority described in the association's bylaws or in the resolution and related documents approved by the board that establishes the committee.
Some association bylaws go into great detail as to the role and responsibility of various committees. Others simply provide that the board can establish committees. In the latter situation, the board should establish a committee via a detailed resolution adopted at a board meeting. The board should also prepare and approve a charter that describes the role and responsibility of the committee. The charter should be detailed, and the authority of the committee and of the chairman needs to be described in no uncertain terms.
However, in general, neither committee nor the chair of the committee should be given free rein to do whatever they want. All committees need close oversight by the board, which is ultimately responsible for the actions of the committees it appoints.
• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in the Chicago suburbs. 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.