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posted: 8/9/2014 12:01 AM

Only the board has authority to hire, or fire, a manager

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Q. I live in a condominium association. We have had the same management firm and manager for the last nine years. Most of the residents are not happy with this arrangement, but the board of managers refuses to consider a change. Can the residents petition the board to require it to either change the management company or to self-manage without a professional manager?

A. No, the owners do not have that authority. The Illinois Condominium Property Act specifically grants the board the power to engage the services of a manager or managing agent. The declaration for your association may include similar authority. Therefore, the unit owners could not force the board to either change the management company or to transition to self-management.

The owners in such a circumstance would have to seek a political solution. That is, the owners could attempt to elect a sufficient number of members to the board who would vote to make a change in management.

Note too that the declaration for some associations requires the approval of some percentage of the mortgage holders on individual units to approve a proposal to self-manage. Depending on the language in the declaration, this approval might have to be expressly given in writing by the lender. Sometimes the declaration provides that this approval is deemed implied by a lender who does not respond to a request for approval.

Q. The declaration of covenants for our association states that "for sale" signs can only be placed in one window of the unit. However, my unit does not have a window that is visible in the front. I have requested that I be able to put a sign in the grassy area next to my garage, but the board has denied my request. Do I have any recourse?

A. The board generally does not have the authority to waive or grant exceptions to the covenants established by the declaration. The recourse here is for the association to amend the declaration to, for example, permit the board to approve the posting of a "for sale" sign at some location other than the unit window.

Q. Title for many of the units in our association is held in a land trust. Who votes on behalf of these units in elections?

A. The trustee of the land trust, or the holder of the current beneficial interest in the land trust, can generally vote on behalf of the trust. The trustee can be requested to designate, in writing, a person to cast votes on behalf of the unit owner. That designation would remain in effect until a subsequent document is provided to the association.

Q. The board of our association collected proxies over a year ago in connection with a vote on an amendment to the declaration. A meeting was finally called to vote on the amendment, and ballots were cast using the year old proxies. Was it proper to use proxies that were more than 11 months old?

A. A proxy for a condominium or a common interest community association is valid for 11 months from the date it is signed by the owner, unless the association's declaration or the written proxy itself provides otherwise. Both the association's declaration and the proxy need to be reviewed to determine if they provide that the proxy is valid for more than 11 months. If they do not include this language, the proxies would not have been valid after 11 months from the date they were signed by the owner. Also, make sure the person who issued the proxy was an owner at the time of the actual vote. If that owner sold their unit before the vote, the proxy would no longer be valid.

• 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.

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