Board discussion can't be endless
Q: Our board has substantial discussion and debate about issues before we vote on an item. However, one of our board members frequently just won't let an issue go when he disagrees with a vote of the board. This causes substantial delays in our board meetings. Is the board required to continue a discussion on an issue after the board has made a decision?
A: Absolutely not. The vote of the appropriate number of board members, typically a majority, when a quorum of the board is present at a board meeting is the act of the board. While vigorous debate on issues can be fruitful, decisions of the board do not need to be unanimous. Hence, once a decision is made after a debate on the item, it's typically time to move on to the next issue.
It takes a strong board president, with the support of the board, to move the meeting forward to the next agenda item, and to shut down the obstinate and obstructionist board member.
Q: One of the board members of our homeowners' association has been designated the liaison between the board and the association's attorney. At board meetings, this board member delivers a verbal or written summary of any matter for which legal guidance has been requested. However, this board member does not share any of the actual written communications between him and the attorney. Should he?
A: In general, the actual written communications with the association's attorney, and not simply a summary, should be provided to the board by the board member liaison. This will permit the board to review the actual issue presented to the association's attorney and the actual guidance provided by the attorney, and not merely a summary that may or may not be accurate.
Q: I own two side-by-side condominium units. I don't want to combine the two units into a single unit. However, can I create an opening in the wall between the two units?
A: This is governed by Section 29 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act. This section grants a unit owner owning two or more units the right to remove or otherwise alter any intervening partition, which in your case is an intervening common element wall. However, this is only permitted if the action will not weaken, impair or endanger any common element or unit. Further, the condominium instruments can impose other reasonable limitations.
An owner is required to notify the board of the nature of the removal or alteration at least ten days prior to commencing work. Frankly, this may not be enough time for a board to evaluate what the owner is contemplating.
Q: I own an apartment building, and I am considering converting it to a condominium. I am confident the building meets code requirements that were applicable at the time the building was built. However, will I have to bring the building up to current codes as part of the conversion process?
A: In the case of the conversion of an apartment building into condominium units, a municipality does have the right to inspect the apartment building prior to the conversion to condominium units. Relevant to your question, the municipality can require each new proposed condominium unit comply with the current life safety, building and zoning codes of the municipality. This is described in Section 30.5 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act.
As such, you should review the local ordinance, or make an inquiry of the municipality where the apartment building is located, to determine what it requires in terms of current code compliance in connection with a condominium conversion.
• 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.