Boards can require video during Zoom meeting
Q: Like so many associations during COVID-19, the board of our condominium has been conducting its board meetings via "Zoom." However, a couple of board members do not turn on their video, and only participate via audio. These board members seem distracted when asked to comment on something during a meeting, and a lot of "background noise" seems to come from these board members. Can the board require board members to join by video as well as their audio?
A: It's a video meeting, so board members should join the meeting by video as well as by audio! The purpose of the video meeting, compared to a conference call, is to resemble the in-person meeting experience as closely as possible. A board member would not sit in a cardboard box during an in-person board meeting -- so they should join the "Zoom" meeting by video as well as audio.
Yes, I contend the board can adopt a motion requiring board members to join the "Zoom" conference via video and not just by audio. If a board member is too distracted by other things to join by video, then he or she probably should not be serving as a fiduciary on a board.
Q: The declaration of condominium for our association states members of the board of directors serve for a one-year term. The bylaws of the association are an exhibit to the declaration, and the bylaws state board members serve for a two-year term. Which is correct?
A: This is resolved by Section 4.1(b) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act. That section provides that "in the event of a conflict between the provisions of the declaration and the bylaws or other condominium instruments, the declaration prevails except to the extent the declaration is inconsistent with this Act." The Act does not address the specific term of board members (and only provides board terms cannot be longer than two years), and the declaration controls over the bylaws. As such, the board members here serve for a one-year term.
This error can arguably be corrected by the board through an amendment to the bylaws, without owner approval, pursuant to Section 27(b) of the Act.
Q: To avoid taking up space on the balconies serving the individual units in our association, many residents attach their satellite dish to the outside of their balcony. Some residents even install their dish on a long pole that extends out several feet from their balcony. This is rather unsightly, and can block the view from other balconies. Can the board prohibit people from installing satellite dishes in this location?
A: The federal communications commission has rules concerning the installation of satellite dishes on balconies. The FCC rules apply whether the balcony is part of the unit or whether it is allocated for the exclusive use of a unit as a limited common element. These rules are generally very satellite-dish-owner friendly. However, the FCC provides that an association can prohibit the installation of a dish that extends beyond the boundary of a balcony. The board in your case can prohibit owners from installing a satellite dish on the exterior of their balcony, or in any manner that results in the dish extending beyond the boundary of the balcony.
• 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.