Board members should show their faces — live

Q. The board of our association conducts board meetings via video conferencing. One of the board members turns off his camera, or posts a profile picture instead of the live video. This board member does not contribute much to the discussion during the meeting, but does vote. Several board members are concerned that the board member’s son is actually the one “attending” the meeting and voting. Is there a way to know if the board member who uses a profile picture and name instead of the live video is actually that board member?

A. This is a relatively common issue that I don’t fully “get.” Would a board member show up to an in-person meeting with a bag over their head? The board should adopt a policy that requires any board member attending a board meeting via video conference to use the live video function.

Q. The declaration for our common interest community association provides that owners are responsible for windows and entrances for their unit. The association is responsible for the other portions of the exterior of units. The window well for a unit is causing a leak into the unit. Wouldn’t the window well be considered an entrance for which the owner is responsible?

A. Window wells are there, and typically required by municipal code, to provide an emergency exit (egress) from a unit, and not entry (ingress) to a unit. It would be a real stretch to characterize a window well as an “entrance” to the unit.

Q. Our homeowners’ association provides annual car window stickers for members of our private community. The car sticker identifies the car as belonging to a member of the association and allows the car to enter the private community and use the amenities.

The sticker includes the name of the community and the owner’s house or lot number. All of the lots have a unique number. The board recently voted to remove the community’s name from the new annual stickers, but chose to retain the lot number. Some members are now saying that by not also removing the lot number from the car sticker, the association could be liable for damages because house numbers are personal information. Our association lawyer says this is acceptable, but some members have contacted other lawyers who disagree. Would you have an opinion on this?

A. Frankly, I am not fully understanding the link between identifying a house/lot number on a sticker affixed to the vehicle and damages. That said, if privacy is an issue, it may be better to have a sticker for each vehicle that simply has a random number on it. The association would keep a record as to who the specific sticker was given to and the owner’s name and address.

Q. A board member of our condominium routinely publishes confidential information from closed sessions of the board on a chatroom he has set up for owners. The information is extremely sensitive, and puts the association in jeopardy. What can the board do?

A. This board member is in breach of their fiduciary duty, and may be exposed to damages if publishing this confidential information causes the association harm.

At minimum, a cease and desist letter should be issued to this board member that describes remedies available to the association if they continue. These remedies include seeking their removal from the board and suing for any damages suffered by the board.

In an extreme move, the board could consider barring the board member from closed sessions on this matter. That could result in a suit filed by the board member to regain access to the closed sessions.

• 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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