Condo Talk: Condo boards may prohibit satellite dishes on balconies
Q. Due to the small size of the balconies serving the individual units in our association, residents attach their satellite dish to the outside of their balcony. This is rather unsightly. Can the board prohibit owners from installing satellite dishes in this location?
A. The federal communications commission has rules concerning the installation of satellite dishes on balconies that are part of the unit or that are allocated for the exclusive use of a unit. These rules are generally very resident friendly. However, an association can prohibit the installation of a dish that extends beyond the boundary of a balcony. The board in your case can prohibit owners from installing a satellite dish on the exterior of their balcony, or in any manner that results in the dish extending beyond the boundary of the balcony.
Q. The board of our association posts notice of board meetings throughout the association. However, the board does not post the board meeting agenda. Is the board required to post the agenda with the notice of the board meeting?
A. The board is required to post notice of board meetings, stating the date, time, place, and purpose of the board meeting. However, the board is not required, unless required by the association's declaration/by-laws, to post the agenda for the board meeting. That said, many boards do post the proposed agenda with the notice of board meeting. This is a matter of personal preference, often based on the desire of the owners.
Q. An owner in our association is habitually delinquent in the payment of his assessments. Can the association stop providing services to the owner or prevent the owner from using recreational facilities?
A. Unless the association's governing documents expressly permit the association to withhold services, or deny access to recreational facilities, I generally do not suggest doing so. That is because, the argument goes, each of the covenants in the association's governing documents is independent from one another. This interpretation can benefit associations who are involved in assessment collection litigation. How so?
In many forcible entry and detainer assessment collection lawsuits, the owner contends that he is not paying assessments because the association is not properly maintaining the property. The association's response is that the board's duty to maintain the property is independent of the owner's duty to pay assessments. This argument is usually successful, and the owner is not permitted to raise poor maintenance as a defense to nonpayment of their assessments. To be consistent with this beneficial interpretation, an association (unless provided for in the governing documents) should carefully consider whether to withhold services, or use of facilities, from a delinquent owner.
Q. Can the association require owners to keep a current credit card on file, and to authorize the association to charge the credit card, if an owner is delinquent in the payment of assessments?
A. An owner can voluntarily agree to such an arrangement, and it may be more attractive than being evicted from their unit; however, an association cannot unilaterally require an owner to pay assessments by credit card. Many associations establish an auto-debit program. This would permit owners to authorize their bank to automatically debit the owner's account in the amount of the monthly or special assessment on a preset day of the month in the name of the association. This eliminates the need for the owner to write checks or pay for postage, reduces exposure to late charges, and improves the association's cash flow.
Q. Our association recently adopted an amendment to our declaration and bylaws. The board notified owners that the amendment had been approved and recorded. Is the board required to send a recorded copy of the amendment to all owners?
A. The board is not required to send a recorded copy of the amendment to the declaration and bylaws to all owners as a matter of course. However, an owner who makes a written request is entitled to receive a recorded copy of the amendment. The association may charge the owner the actual cost of copying the amendment. Some associations automatically mail every owner a copy of a recorded amendment, at great expense to the association. The better approach may be to advise owners that the amendment has been recorded, and that a copy will be made available upon written request. This way, the association is not wasting money on postage to mail a document that may just end up in the recycler.
• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in Buffalo Grove. Send questions for the column to him at CondoTalk@ksnlaw.com. The firm provides legal service to condominium, townhouse, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives. This column is not a substitute for consultation with legal counsel.