Resident with disability has right to 'reasonable' modifications

By David M. Bendoff

Q: A unit owner in our association claims the association is not required to allow a disabled unit owner to make a modification to the common elements to accommodate her wheelchair. That does not sound right. What is the answer?

A: The person making this claim is not correct. Section 18.4(q) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act requires the board "(t)o reasonably accommodate the needs of a unit owner who is a person with a disability as required by the federal Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Human Rights Act and any applicable local ordinances in the exercise of its powers with respect to the use of common elements or approval of modifications in an individual unit."

The federal Fair Housing Act requires associations to permit a resident with a disability to make reasonable modifications to the common elements at the owner's expense. So, if the owner is disabled, and if the requested modification is reasonable, the board would be required to permit the owner to make the modification at the owner's expense.

Q: What is the amount of time owners in a condominium have to comment on proposed rules before the board can adopt them?

A: There is no owner "comment period" per se concerning proposed rules. Rather, before the board holds a board meeting to vote to approve rules, there must be a meeting of the owners called to discuss the proposed rules. No quorum is required at this meeting of the unit owners.

Written notice of the meeting of the owners must be mailed or delivered giving members no less than 10 and no more than 30 days' notice of the time, place and purpose of such meeting. Notice of the meeting must contain the full text of the proposed rules.

Q: I understand a condominium association is required to maintain property insurance and general liability insurance. If a unit owner causes a loss that triggers the association's property insurance, can the association's insurance carrier pursue a claim against the unit owner under its rights of subrogation?

A: Section 12(e) of the Illinois Condominium Property addresses this issue. The property insurance and general liability insurance policies required to be carried by the association must provide that the "insurer waives its right to subrogation under the policy against any unit owner of the condominium or members of the unit owner's household and against the association and members of the board of directors" and that "(t)he unit owner waives his or her right to subrogation under the association policy against the association and the board of directors.'

Therefore, the association's insurer could not pursue a subrogation claim against the owner who causes a loss. However, the association could recover the deductible portion of its insurance from the owner who caused the damage or from whose units the damage or cause of loss originated.

Q: As the result of a fire in our condominium association, the association's property insurance paid to replace a refrigerator in a unit several years ago. The refrigerator now needs to be repaired. The unit owner claims the association is responsible to perform the repairs on the refrigerator, because the association's insurance paid to replace it. Is the association responsible to perform these repairs?

A: Under a typical declaration of condominium, owners are responsible for maintenance, repair and replacement of appliances within their unit, and this would include the refrigerator. The fact that the property insurance procured by the association, on behalf of the owners, covered replacement of the refrigerator due to an insurable fire loss does not change this owner's responsibility for the future repair.

• 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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