Condo rules need to be specific to be enforced

Q. The board of our condominium association is reviewing our rules for possible update. One of the rules provides that the underlayment for hard floor surfaces in the individual units, like wood or ceramics, must meet standards established by the board. No one on the board can locate any sort of standards that have actually been established. Should those standards be in the rules?

A. It is all too common for association rules regarding underlayment to refer to “specifications to be established by the board.” This happens too with other items like windows or doors. However, often such standards are never actually established!

To the extent that the board is establishing standards or specifications for items like underlayment, these standards or specifications need to be set forth in the rules. Because an issue like this can slip through the cracks, these standards or specifications should be set forth when the initial rule is adopted, and not left for some later date and the potential for failure to ever establish such standards or specifications.

Q. I am a member of an association that has not held an annual meeting for several years. To give some background, each year the notice of the annual meeting is issued to the owners. However, there has not been a quorum of owners present at the annual meeting either in person or by proxy, so the annual meeting does not proceed. As a result, the same board members remain on the board year after year.

In the opinion of many owners, this has contributed to poor maintenance of the property. Wondering if you can provide an opinion on this matter.

A. It sounds like the failure to have a quorum at the annual meetings is due to owner apathy. This can happen for various reasons. Here, it is going to be incumbent upon owners like yourself to persuade other owners to attend the annual meeting so that a quorum can be established. You could also solicit proxies from other owners to allow you to vote on their behalf at the annual meeting. This of course assumes that there are owners, other than the current board members, who are candidates for the board.

Q. An amendment to our condominium declaration was recorded about three years ago reallocating percentage of ownership for the units. However, Cook County hasn’t yet issued new permanent index numbers for the units to reflect the reallocated percentages of ownership. What could have happened here.

A. When an amendment to a condominium declaration is recorded that reallocates percentages of ownership, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds is supposed to deliver a copy of the recorded amendment to the Cook County Assessor Divisions Department. The Cook County Assessor Divisions Department them handles the issuance of new permanent index numbers to reflect the reallocated percentages of ownership.

If an amendment of this sort is recorded by the deadline imposed by the county in a particular year, new permanent index numbers should be issued for the next year, for taxes payable in the year after that. Occasionally, but not to often, a copy of the amendment is not delivered to the Cook County Assessor Divisions Department by the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. This results in a delay in the issuance of the new permanent index numbers to reflect the reallocation of percentage of ownership. I would suggest contacting the Cook County Assessor Divisions Department to confirm it received the amendment, and to inquire as to the status of the issuance of the new permanent index numbers for the units.

• 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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