Boards may conduct rules violation hearings by phone

 
Posted3/11/2017 6:00 AM

Q. It is difficult for our association to schedule rules violation hearings because of the work and travel schedules of board members. Is the board of a condominium allowed to hold a rules violation hearing via phone conference with a unit owner?

A. A board of a condominium or common interest community association can conduct a rules violation hearing either in a "closed" portion of a properly noticed board meeting, or separately from a board meeting. This is set out in Section 18(a)(9) of the Condominium Property Act, and Section 1-40(b)(5) of the Common Interest Community Association Act, both of which were amended effective Jan. 1 of this year.

 

Therefore, a rules violation hearing could be conducted by phone, as long as everyone participating in the hearing can speak with and hear everyone who is also participating in the hearing. That said, there may be "body language" a board normally interprets that members would not have the advantage of seeing during a hearing conducted by phone.

Q. I have a question that hopefully you can answer for me. We have no children so we would like to start proceedings to obtain a reverse mortgage. I talked to the board of my condominium association and the association is not FHA certified. What would that involve?

A. The vast majority of reverse mortgages are loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. The FHA insures reverse mortgages on condominiums that meet certain FHA requirements. A condominium project must apply to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and be granted approval before a buyer can purchase a unit with a FHA loan, or before an existing resident can refinance into a FHA loan such as a reverse mortgage. In order for a condominium project to become FHA approved, there is a variety of criteria that the association will have to abide by to qualify.

It is possible your association has not obtained FHA certification because it would not qualify under the current criteria. That said, the association should review the criteria with counsel or other available resources to help guide the way.

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Q. Our association has been cited for life-safety violations as all unit doors do not close and latch properly. As such, the association is scheduling unit inspections to ensure all units have working door closers and properly latching doors. If we do not receive permission to enter, but we have sent out notice to owners, may the association enter the units for the inspection? Further, what are the association's options if we do not receive permission to enter and there are no keys on file?

A. Section 18.4(j) of the Condominium Property Act grants the board "access to each unit from time to time as may be necessary for the maintenance, repair or replacement of any common elements or for making emergency repairs necessary to prevent damage to the common elements or to other units."

Given the fact that the ordinance is referred to as "Life Safety," and this involves maintenance, repair and replacement of the common elements, entry to units for the stated purpose would appear justified under this section of the law. It may even be useful for the association to advise owners in advance of the association's right of access so as to increase the likelihood owners will comply.

If an owner is not cooperative, the association could enter with the help of a locksmith, but not all locksmiths will do that without a court order. The association could seek a court order requiring recalcitrant owners to provide access, and the board could seek to recover its attorney's fees from the owner.

• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in the Chicago suburbs. 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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