Association likely must pay to restore garage
Q: I live in a condominium association. The roots of a tree located on the common elements of the association have damaged the concrete slab of the garage floor of my unit. Who is responsible for repairing the damage to the concrete slab?
A: Initially, I am assuming the concrete slab of the garage is a common element. In general, the association is going to be responsible to trim back the roots of the tree and to repair the common elements damaged by the roots of the tree.
Q: I have requested the addresses of the board members of our Northwest suburban condominium association, and I have not been provided this information. Am I entitled to this information?
A: Under Section 19(a)(7) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act, an owner is entitled to the names and addresses of all owners (and that would include the board members). And owners are entitled to know the names of the board members. Note, too, that the Illinois Secretary of State's records (online) do show the mailing addresses for the president and secretary of an incorporated condominium.
A unit owner is entitled to recover attorney's fees in a suit to compel examination of books and records.
Q: At meetings, the board of directors of our association sometimes refers to the declaration of covenants, and sometimes refers to the bylaws. Is there a difference between an association's declaration and its bylaws, or are they synonymous?
A: The declaration and bylaws refer to different documents.
In general, the declaration creates the community, establishes the units, establishes the assessment obligations, and describes the covenants that regulate the use and occupancy of the units and the property as a whole. These can include restrictions on the use of the units, commonly addressing leasing of units, the keeping of pets and establishing architectural controls, although these are only a few examples.
In general, the bylaws provide for the governance and administration of the community. The bylaws would, for example, establish the board of directors and provide for the election of a board, and set out the number of board members and its officers, the number of meetings of the board, and voting rights of the members of the association. The bylaws would also recite the powers and duties of the board.
Sometimes, the bylaws are a separate document that is attached to the declaration as an exhibit. Alternatively, the bylaws may be set forth in the declaration and certain sections of the declaration are identified as the bylaws. I prefer the former approach.
Frequently, amendments to a declaration require a higher percentage of the owners to approve than amendments to bylaws. In Illinois, both the declaration and bylaws need to be recorded with the recorder of deeds.
Q: An owner in our condominium association has requested numerous books and records under Section 19 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act. Can the association charge the owner for our property manager's time to retrieve and to copy requested documents?
A: Section 19(f) of the Condominium Property Act addresses your issue as to the costs associated with complying with a request for books and records and states that the "actual cost to the association of retrieving and making requested records available for inspection and examination under this Section may be charged by the association to the requesting member. If a member requests copies of records requested under this Section, the actual costs to the association of reproducing the records may also be charged by the association to the requesting member."
Therefore, if the association's management company charges the association to retrieve and/or to make requested records available for inspection and examination, the association can charge that amount to the owner who is requesting the records. Similarly, if management charges the association to reproduce records, the association can charge that amount to the owner who is requesting the records.
• 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.