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What You Need to Know About Condominium Law

Q.        What is a “condominium”?

Oddly, Illinois’ Condominium Property Act (the “CPA”) does not actually define the term “condominium.”  We think of it as ownership of the air space within a certain defined unit in a “condominium property,” along with an undivided fractional interest in the common elements of that same “condominium property.”  While most people think of individually-owned apartments, it may surprise you that free-standing houses may also be condominiums.

Q.        What is a “condo declaration”?

A “declaration” is a document by which the “developer” of real estate makes the property subject to the CPA.  The declaration typically describes the various units and common elements comprising the property.

Q.        If the Board fails to repair my unit, can I withhold assessment fees?

No.  Under Illinois law (unlike other states), a condominium unit owner cannot withhold assessments if the Board of Directors refuses to repair a unit.  However, the unit owner may have other remedies, including filing a lawsuit.

Q.        What happens if the Board passes a resolution conflicting with the Declaration and By-Laws?

This happens more often than it should.  The CPA controls in most circumstances – even if the Declaration says otherwise.  In turn, the Declaration controls if it conflicts with the By-Laws.  Similarly, the CPA, the Declaration and By-Laws control and take precedence if the Board passes a resolution to the contrary.

Q.        What should I do if I receive a notice from the Board or its attorney that I violated a rule?

Immediately call a lawyer to protect your rights and interests.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  As someone accused of wrongdoing, you probably cannot assess your own situation objectively.  In our experience, both sides can usually benefit when each side’s lawyers discuss the problem professionally.

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