Condo association is not a charitable organization

Q: An owner in our condominium would like to donate landscaping to the association, and has requested a receipt for the landscaping. He and other owners have volunteered to install the landscaping. Can the association accept this donation, and should owners be permitted to install the landscaping?

A: The association can accept a donation, which would be a gift, of landscaping from an owner. The association can certainly acknowledge "receipt" of the landscaping in writing. However, the owner would be wrong if they think the donation is tax deductible like a donation to a charity. That is because, while an association may be a not-for-profit corporation, it is not a charitable entity. The donation is really a gift.

There are serious issues with having owners perform services, like installing landscaping, for an association, whether or not they are paid. The association may have exposure to liability for damages to third parties caused by the act or omission of the owners here. A contractor performing such work should have their own insurance to cover such a loss; an owner probably does not.

Further, if the owner is injured while performing the work, the owner would have a workers' compensation claim against the association. The association would need to confirm that it has workers' compensation insurance.

Q: Our association is considering an amendment to the declaration that would prohibit smoking of tobacco and marijuana in the individual units. Would the association be required to allow the holder of a medical marijuana card to smoke in their units, despite such a restriction?

A: My general view is that an association is not required to allow the holder of a medical marijuana card to smoke in their unit, if the smoke migrates into another unit or the common elements, thereby exposing other residents to the secondhand smoke and its effects.

An association must make a "reasonable accommodation" to a person with a disability with respect to the association's covenants. It isn't really reasonable to permit a resident to expose third parties to secondhand smoke that migrates into other units or the common elements. Importantly, even in states such as Illinois where recreational use of cannabis is permitted, it should be noted that protections afforded to persons with a disability under federal law do not help medical cannabis user, because cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

Q: One of the board members of the townhouse community in which I live made the following statement in an email communication: "Posting the minutes is an option that we try our best to accommodate and is not a requirement of our rules and regulations." Can you please address this statement and explain how soon after a meeting the minutes of that meeting must be posted to the entire homeowner community.

A: There is no requirement in the governing statutes for Illinois condominiums, common interest community associations, or master associations to "post" minutes of meetings of the board or of the owners. Rather, the approved minutes of those meetings do need to be made available for examination and copying by owners who make a written request to do so.

That said, many associations do "post" approved meeting minutes, and other association related documents, on a website accessible to owners. Whether or not to do so is a business decision of the board, and not a legal requirement.

• 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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