Surveillance camera videos are private property
Q: The board of our condominium association installed surveillance cameras at various common element locations in the association. What if I suspected my spouse is cheating on me with an old flame while I am at work? Could the board refuse my request for a copy of the surveillance camera video that could support my suspicion? Am I entitled to a copy of that video?
A: Surveillance camera videos are not among the books and records required to be maintained by a condominium association for examination and copying by owners. Therefore, the association is not required to voluntarily provide you with a copy.
It would be prudent for the board to adopt a policy that describes under what limited circumstances surveillance camera video will be available to owners and others. That said, surveillance video should be preserved for a reasonable period of time to be determined by the board. The board's policy could state the association will preserve video longer if a written request is made to the board, and if the person requesting the video pays the association's expenses in connection with the preservation of such video.
Q: Our board received information that a serious rules violation was captured by an owner's surveillance camera. The owner of the surveillance camera has refused a request from the board to provide a copy of the video. Can the board require the owner to turn over a copy of this surveillance camera video?
A: The board of an association does not have "subpoena" power, and cannot mandate that the owner in question turn over a copy of the surveillance camera video. The board could, however, demand that the owner preserve a copy of the video. If the rules violation ends up in court, the association could ask the court to issue a subpoena that requires the owner to provide a copy of the video. If presented with a subpoena, the owner could be found in contempt if they do not provide video referred to in the subpoena.
Q: The balconies in our condominium are limited common elements. Each owner keeps their balcony neat and tidy. Paint on most of the balconies is peeling, while the paint on some balconies seems fine. The board of the association hired a painting contractor to paint all of the balconies, and the board said it will charge the cost to each unit with a balcony. My balcony is fine, and the cost seems higher than I would pay if I hired my own contractor. Can the board proceed as it proposes here?
A: This is addressed in the Illinois Condominium Property Act. The board is generally responsible for maintenance, repair and replacement of the common elements. This would include the limited common elements, which are a subset of the common elements. If the declaration provides, the assessment in connection with expenditures for the limited common elements can be charged only to those units to which the limited common elements are assigned.
The board determines the need for and timing of such maintenance, repair and replacement, often with the input of third party experts. Boards are often called upon to make the difficult decision to perform painting work, such as here, to all of the balconies as opposed to only those majority of balconies showing an immediate need. One of the multiple factors to be considered by the board is the appearance of the property if most, but not all, balconies are repainted. Most would agree that a patchwork quilt of repainted balconies, and balconies that have not been repainted, may create a significant eyesore that could impact property values.
• 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.