How to prepare for an annual meeting

Q: The annual meeting for our association will be held this spring. Do you have any recommendations for a timeline of issues the board should address leading up to the annual meeting?

A: All too often, associations find themselves with an upcoming annual meeting, without any timeline in place to address key events leading up to the annual meeting. Most notable of these seems to be building in enough time to solicit candidates for the board.

With that in mind, here is a timeline and steps I suggest for an annual meeting. Working backward from the annual meeting date:

• Annual meeting date

Issue notice of annual meeting and proxies. (At least 10 and not more than 30 days before the annual meeting)

• Candidate deadline

Date by which owners must advise association they are candidates. They must provide candidate biographical information. (At least 10 days prior to issuance of notice of annual meeting)

• Issue solicitation for candidates

Post information on board election, board terms that are expiring. (14 days before deadline date for candidates to respond)

The association should give itself enough time between receiving the names of candidates, and issuing notice of meeting, so that it can prepare the documents to include the names of the known candidates/bio information.

Q: I live in a common interest community association. Two different communities are governed by the same declaration of covenants. The two communities have separate entrances and are not joined physically at any point. The first subdivision was sold by the builder as privately maintained homes and are charged minimal assessment to maintain the common areas. The second subdivision was advertised as a "maintenance-free community." Services provided are snow removal, lawn care and the care of our common areas, which includes fencing and a walking path. Our assessment is triple the amount of the other subdivision. Under Illinois law, is there any possibility we could separate and have our own declaration.

A: It is not uncommon for a developer to bring seemingly different housing styles/portions of a community under the governance of a single declaration. Typically, facilities and infrastructure, such as roads, is shared, making it difficult to split the property into two separate associations.

That said, if the two portions of the properties subject to the single declaration have no relationship except that the developer created a single declaration, and share no infrastructure, it may be workable to split the property into two separate associations. The key issue here will be what level of owner/mortgagee approval will be needed to do this. This might be addressed in the declaration, and this should be reviewed with association counsel.

Importantly, a title company should be involved early on in the discussion to address what it will require to ensure title to the units in the resulting associations.

There may be other "practical" considerations, like splitting of the operating account and reserve account, and dealing with contracts that currently cover the entire property, that would need to be worked out as well.

Q: There are five individual buildings in our condominium association. The declaration of condominium requires that one board member be elected from each of the buildings, so that each building has a representative on the board. From time to time, however, we cannot attract a candidate from every building, so we don't have a full board. We have thought about amending the declaration to eliminate this requirement; however, that may be difficult. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Section 8(a)(1) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act provides that members of the board are to be elected at large from among all of the owners. Therefore, the language in your association's declaration that requires board members to be elected from a certain building is invalid. Under Section 27(b) of the act, the board, without owner approval, could amend the declaration to remove the requirement that board members be elected from a certain building.

• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in the Chicago suburbs. Send questions for the column to him at 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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