Threatening neighbor and the fear of violence

Q: I live in a manor home condominium in the suburbs of Chicago. For over 10 years, a particular owner has been a menace to our community. A large number of residents have filed multiple police reports against this owner for unlawful conduct he engages in at the association; he has been arrested on many of these occasions. One young woman who lives across the hall from him has a restraining order against him.

Unfortunately, none of this has deterred this owner, and his conduct has actually escalated. He often gets drunk and harasses and threatens residents who walk by his building, and peeps in single women's windows when he prowls the property late at night. A group of owners contacted the association's property manager, who contacted the association's lawyer, about all of this. Apparently, all the lawyer said was something like "he's an owner, there's nothing we can do about it." What can be done to deal with this person?

A: There are actually quite a number of remedies available to the association to address this owner's conduct. These include levying fines for violations of the association's governing documents, seeking a court order prohibiting this owner from engaging in the described conduct, and seeking the involuntary sale of the unit. The latter remedy is reserved for the most egregious conduct, usually when the owner is a threat to the safety of the other residents or their property.

We have seen an increase in reports of this kind of behavior of association residents over the past several years. In one situation, an owner's threats to kill his neighbors resulted in a court order barring him from the property. The bottom line is that boards need to take these situations seriously and take appropriate legal action to protect the residents.

Q: The term of office for board members in our common interest community association is two years. Some board members are serving their third or more consecutive terms on the board. An owner has complained, stating the law imposes a four-year term limit. Are there term limits for association board members?

A: There are no term limits for board members in either a common interest community association or condominium.

Section 1-25(d) of the Illinois Common Interest Community Association Act provides that "(n)o member of the board or officer shall be elected for a term of more than four years, but officers and board members may succeed themselves." This means each term can be no more than four years. However, board members can be reelected without limitation as to the total number of years they can serve on the board.

The Illinois Condominium Property Act limits each board term to two years. However, condominium board members can also be reelected without limitation as to the total number of years they can serve on the board.

Q: In anticipation of the upcoming better weather, the board of my association adopted rules about grilling at the association. Citing fire danger related to building materials, the rules include a prohibition on the use of barbecue grills on our balconies. The balconies are made of wood, and the building siding is wood and aluminum. Can the board prohibit grilling on balconies?

A: Many municipalities have ordinances to prohibit grills within some described distance from combustible materials. The required minimum distances in these ordinances would typically prevent grilling on a wood balcony of a wood-sided building. Associations should investigate whether their municipality has such an ordinance.

Even in the absence of such an ordinance, an association rule could be reasonably enacted if the board contends grills on the balconies are a fire hazard.

• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in the Chicago suburbs. Send questions for the column to him at 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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