‘The garage looks fine to me’ may not matter to board

Q. I live in a single-family common interest community association. A board member and the property manager for our association recently performed an inspection of the property. After the inspection, the property manager issued a letter to me claiming that the paint on the garage door on my home was severely chipping, and stating that I must have the garage door painted by a date set out in the letter. I don’t think the garage door looks bad, and I would like to wait until next year to do the work. Do I have any options here?

A. The opinion of the professional property manager for the association as to the condition of your home, and the need for painting the garage door, would carry a lot of value and weight here. If you and the board can’t come to an agreement on postponing the work for a year, you could consider seeking a judicial review. However, that is not going to be practical from an economic point of view. It would be less expensive for you, regardless of the outcome of a suit, to comply with the association’s request to paint your garage that is based on a property management professional’s opinion. If you don’t, you may be subject to fines for failure to maintain the garage doors of your home.

Q. The books and records for our association are kept in an on-site management office. The only person who has a key to the office is the property manager. The property manager is an employee of the association. Who should have a key to the office and access to these records?

A. When an association has a property manager, in addition to the property manager, a member, or members of the board, should also have a key to the on-site management office. Which board members are provided a key to the office should be a decision made by the board in a board meeting. In my experience, when an association is professionally managed, a key to the office is most typically also provided to the board president. Sometimes this is the secretary of the board though, as the keeper of the association’s books and records.

That doesn’t mean that the other board members can’t have access to the office, as may be needed. However, it is important to maintain the security and integrity of the association’s books and records, and to control who has access to the office where they are maintained. I am not suggesting that a board member would do anything nefarious. However, books and records can be misfiled or removed and not returned, inadvertently.

Q. The board of our condominium issued the annual “census form” to all unit owners. The form includes a line that I can initial that provides that the owner agrees to delivery of notices by email, rather than by U.S. Mail as required by our declaration. Is that sufficient to permit email delivery of notices to owners?

A. In a condominium, the board would have to adopt a rule permitting electronic delivery of notice and other communications, and to conduct business by acceptable technological means. Once such a rule is adopted, each owner would have to consent to receive electronic delivery of notice, and to conduct business by acceptable technological means. If an owner does not consent to receive electronic delivery of notices, the board would have to conduct business with that owner without the use of “technology” (e.g., by mail).

There would be an issue with the propriety of the process to permit delivery of notice by email if the board “skipped” the step of adopting a rule.

• 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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