Commission members need not be unit owners
Q: The board of directors of our homeowners' association is setting up various commissions. These include a social commission, a decorating commission and a landscaping commission. We have many talented people living in our association who are not unit owners, but who would make terrific contributions to these commissions. Can a person who is not an owner of a unit be a member of these commissions?
A: A member of a commission does not have to be a unit owner. Therefore, it is up to the board whether to include non-owner residents on a commission.
The board may create and appoint people to a commission, advisory body or such other body. A commission makes recommendations to the board or its officers. However, only the board can take action with respect to recommendations made by a commission. That is, unlike a "committee," a commission cannot take action that is binding on the association. In this regard, a commission is essentially an information gathering body that provides the board with data that the board can consider in making a decision on a matter.
Q: Our association was recently turned over from the developer, and I am reviewing proposals from snowplow contractors. Each proposal indicates that residents' cars must be removed from their limited common element driveways to permit plowing whenever there is a snowfall of a certain number of inches. Can the board simply notify owners of this requirement, so that they move their cars?
A: It's always easier to write about snowplow issues on a warm summer day! The requirement you refer to is a matter of contract between the association and the snowplow contractor.
One approach here would be to simply notify residents of the requirement that they must move their cars under the specified snow events. If residents comply, no problem. However, enforcement issues can come up if residents do not comply.
There might be language in the declaration that the board could rely on to suggest failure to move a vehicle constitutes interference with maintenance of the property, and a violation of the declaration.
However, in an abundance of caution, if the board wants to clearly be able to enforce the "move your vehicle" requirement through a fine if an owner does not comply, the board should consider adopting a rule. The rule would require owners to move their vehicles from the limited common element driveways serving their units during specified snowfall events. I trust there is somewhere the cars can be moved to that does not interfere with plowing at other locations.
Q: The limited common element parking spaces in our association are fairly narrow. A couple of the owners park their cars on the very edge of their parking space. This makes it very difficult for the user of the neighboring space to open the door and to get in and out of their car. Can the board do something about this?
A: Aren't the guys who park this way concerned about "door dings" from parking so close to their neighbor?
In any event, the typical declaration for an association provides that an owner's use of limited common elements is subject to reasonable rules adopted by the board. As such, the board can address this issue through appropriate rules. For example, the board could adopt a rule requiring that cars be parked in the middle of the parking space, leaving an equal amount of space on the sides between their vehicle and the boundary of the parking space. Those are not necessarily the words you might use, but this should give you an idea as to the concept.
• 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.