Who is supposed to fix garage doors in townhouse associations?

Q: I live in a common interest community association with townhouse-style units.

The association is responsible for unit roof, siding and gutter maintenance, repair and replacement, and for painting the exterior of units, and for and lawn and shrub maintenance, under the declaration and bylaws.

The declaration and bylaws do not expressly provide that the association is responsible for maintenance, repair or replacement of garage doors (other than painting), and this appears to be a unit owner responsibility. Nonetheless, the board wants to replace all garage doors utilizing association reserve funds. Can the board use association reserve funds to pay to replace the garage doors of the individual units?

A: If the association's governing documents are as clear as you suggest that owners are responsible for replacement of the garage doors, the board would not have the authority to do this work, or to pay for it from any funds of the association. To do so would be a breach of duty.

That said, I find that the covenants for many common interest community associations with townhouse-style units can be vague, confusing, overlapping or incomplete with respect to the delineation of unit exterior maintenance, repair and replacement responsibility as between the unit owner and the association. Given the controversy here, the board should have counsel provide guidance on this issue.

Many common interest community associations amend their governing documents to more clearly describe responsibility for maintenance, repair and replacement of unit exteriors.

Q: Is there an Illinois statute that specifies when the developer is required to turn over control of the association to owners?

A: Both the Illinois Condominium Property Act and the Illinois Common Interest Community Association Act address this issue. The language is essentially the same for both statutes.

An election of the first unit-owner board of managers must be held not later than 60 days after the conveyance by the developer of 75% of the units, or three years after the recording of the declaration, whichever is earlier. The developer is required to give at least 21 days notice of such meeting to elect the first unit-owner board.

Q: Is there a requirement to hold a meeting of the members at least once per year?

A: Yes, both the Illinois Condominium Property Act and the Illinois Common Interest Community Association Act require an annual meeting of the owners. The board of directors may be elected at the annual meeting.

• 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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