Q. I live in a 12-unit condominium building. A month ago, someone taped a note in the common area that threatened the life of one of the resident's dogs. Since I have been one of the more vocal owners regarding dog waste in the yard, the management company's representative accused me of taping the note.
The board issued a violation notice to me and levied a $500 fine without any evidence I committed the violation such as video, eyewitness account or fingerprints. Is the fine valid?
A. Pursuant to Section 18.4(l) of the Condominium Act, the board of directors may levy reasonable fines for violations of the declaration, bylaws or rules and regulations of the association after giving the alleged violator notice and an opportunity for a hearing.
The standard of review a board uses to levy a fine is merely the reasonable determination of the board members.
Video or fingerprint evidence is not required for a fine to be levied, but the lack of any eyewitness account associating a particular person with an alleged violation does raises questions about the reasonableness of levying a fine, and thus its validity.
Q. I live in a small condominium association of 18 units. The new property manager is sending out all information and notices via email and wants to replace board meetings with group conference calls. Is this allowed?
A. The Condominium Act and most declarations and bylaws do not allow meeting notices and other information required by the Condominium Act or a declaration and bylaws to be distributed via email or meetings to be conducted over call-in conference calls.
Unless email notification is authorized by the bylaws (not standard in condominium association bylaws), unit owners may waive the requirement for delivered notices, in order to receive email notices (sign up for an email opt-in program), but an email notification cannot be imposed on unit owners.
Similarly, while all unit owners could waive the requirement for an in-person meeting, such a method to conduct meetings is uncustomary and dilutes the communal nature of meetings in person with the board and other unit owners.
Q. The board of our condominium building has filed suit with respect to a neighboring property, alleging that the permit approval process by the city of Chicago was conducted inappropriately.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the condominium association by the board of directors with common expense funds. Does the board have the authority to do this?
A. There is no provision in the Condominium Act that authorizes a condominium board to utilize common expense funds for a purpose other than administering the common elements, such as a lawsuit relating to zoning of an adjacent property.
Unless the condominium declaration of an association contains authority for the board to spend common expense funds for the general welfare of the association (or similar language), utilizing common expense funds for purposes other than the administering of the common elements is not allowed.