Flood insurance required of owners
Q: Our condominium currently has $15 million in flood insurance. The new FEMA flood map shows a portion of the common element parking lot is in the flood zone. Owners with a mortgage are being told they have to purchase additional flood insurance.
Because this is being requested from owners' individual mortgage companies, does the association have to purchase more flood insurance or is the unit owner responsible for purchasing the additional flood insurance?
A: Mandatory flood insurance is a lender requirement. It is not a legal requirement generally unless the condominium building is in a flood zone. In your situation, it sounds like the association has flood insurance for the portion of the property in a flood zone. I cannot speak to the sufficiency of that insurance coverage, and that is a discussion that should be had with the association's insurance agent. However, I would contend that to the extent the association's coverage is sufficient for the property that is in the flood zone, the association would not have to purchase additional flood insurance. That purchase would be something the owner could do with respect to their unit.
Q: A non-owner resident in our association has made repeated threats against a board member. Is there something the board can do about this?
A: I do not know the details of the threat, so I can't provide a lot of detail. If it was a threat of harm to a board member or board members, those people should contact the police, and they could consider obtaining a protective order. If communications by this non-owner resident are otherwise improper, the board can adopt a communications protocol, at a board meeting, for this person. The protocol can provide that all communications concerning this unit with the board/staff, must be through the unit owner only (except in an emergency). This would then be communicated to the unit owner and to this person in writing. Further, depending on the details of the threat, the association may be able to evict this non-owner resident.
Q: There are two seats open on the board of our association, and our declaration provides for cumulative voting. How does that work.?
A: If there are two board seats up for election, each unit owner can cast up to two votes in total in any manner the owner wishes among the candidates. That is, an owner can distribute their two votes among the candidates in any proportion they deem fit (for example, all two (2) votes for one candidate; or one vote for two different candidates). However, the total number of votes that an owner casts cannot exceed two. Further, owners must use whole numbers only -- that is, an owner may not cast only "one-quarter vote" for a candidate.
If this is a condominium, each vote is also weighted based on the unit's percentage of ownership in the common elements.
Q: The declaration for our association caps the number of units that can be leased at one time at 20% of the units. The declaration does not prevent owners from leasing a room in their unit if they also live in the unit. If an owner who resides in the unit is renting a room in their unit, is this unit counted toward the rental cap?
A: Under this scenario, the unit would be considered "owner occupied" and would not be counted toward the leasing cap. Do keep in mind that, unlike yours, many declarations do prohibit an owner from leasing less than an entire unit.
• 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.