Are owners failing to comply with condominium bylaws? Let us help enforce your community association’s bylaws.
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Illinois Condo Lawyers Enforcing Illinois Condominium Association Declarations and Condo Bylaws
Condominium bylaws – or condominum instruments – help Illinois condominium associations operate in an orderly manner, uphold community aesthetics, preserve property values, and protect co-owners health, safety, and welfare. The Illinois Condominium Property Act defines Condominium Instruments as, “. . . all documents and authorized amendments thereto recorded pursuant to the provisions of the Act, including the declaration, bylaws and plat.”
Enforcing rules and regulations within the bylaws is a very important job but is often time-consuming and complicated. Our Illinois condominium lawyers can help determine if there are any enforceable violations of the bylaws, or if any current or potential rules or regulations are enforceable. When condo owners violate the association’s bylaws, our team of Illinois condo lawyers can enforce the condo bylaw violation.
The board of managers of an Illinois condo association has a duty to enforce and follow the condo bylaws as written, unless a legal justification exists for not doing so. The condo association’s board of managers must enforce the bylaws in a consistent and uniform manner in accordance with the federal and state laws.
In most cases when legal action is necessary, the condo bylaws allow for the condo association to recover attorney’s fees and costs for having to take action against the the owner who is in violation of the condo bylaws. The Illinois condominium lawyers at Hirzel Law, PLC are experienced in assisting condo associations with enforcing rules when a violation of condo bylaws occurs.
What Obligation Does a Condo Have to Enforce the Documents?
Under Section 18.4 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act, the board of a condo association shall have the power, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, to levy and collect reasonable fines from members for violations of the declaration, bylaws, and rules and regulations of the condominium.
When a unit owner buys into a condominium, they agree to follow the condominium instruments. Below are some of the reasons why it is so important for a violation of condo bylaws to be enforced to avoid selective enforcement:
Equity. Condominium rules and regulations only work when enforced consistently and fairly. A condominium board of directors should not selectively pick which rules it will enforce and which rules it will not.
Community mistrust. Once a condo board selectively enforces the bylaws or fails to enforce them at all, it will lose trust and credibility among its owners and its ability to govern the condominium association. Once the trust is lost, it may be difficult for the condominium board of directors to regain it.
Risk of Litigation. Failure to fairly enforce the condominium bylaws opens the entire condo association to legal actions that could result in lawsuits.
Obligation. As a condominium association board member, you agreed to abide and enforce all the rules of the condominium association. This is your duty as a board of managers when a violation of condo bylaws occurs.
Financial responsibilities. Condominium association members pay association dues, special assessments, and fines. Rules for non-payment must be enforced for the condominium association to fund its daily operations and reserves.
How To Enforce Condo Rules
Enforcing condominium association bylaws is the responsibility of the condo board of managers. The condo association must enforce the violations of condo bylaws fairly. Below are some tips on how a condominium association can enforce the rules and regulations within its community. However, please keep in mind that the remedies vary depending on the governing documents.
- Issue a warning: The first step to enforcing condo rules is to issue a warning, even if the issue was a meaningless mistake. The warning should be in writing and include details of the violations.
- Imposing Fines: If a unit owner breaks a rule, they can face a monetary penalty. Imposing fines may be a consequence for non-compliance to condominium association rules and regulations. However, fines are not an appropriate remedy for every bylaw violation.
- Suspend Rights and Privilege: If allowed by the condominium instruments, the condominium association could suspend the unit owner’s rights and privileges if they violate the condo bylaws.
- Place a Lien: For violations involving non-payment of assessments or other damages, the condominium association may be forced to place a lien on the homeowner’s property to secure payment. If the condo lien is not paid, the condominium association may foreclose on the lien. An eviction action may also be filed in Illinois and may be the appropriate remedy.
- Bylaw Enforcement Policy: Enforcing the rules and regulation is not easy, and that is why the process could be made simpler by adopting a more streamlined procedure. We recommend a bylaw enforcement policy to ensure efficient enforcement of your bylaws. Contact your Hirzel Law condo attorney before putting your plan into action so that you can make sure you are legally covered.
- Say No to Selective Enforcement: Ensure that uniform and equal enforcement is given throughout the entire community. As a member of the condominium board, it is your job to enforce the rules consistently and fairly.
Is It Illegal to Violate the Condo Bylaws?
Violating condo bylaws is illegal under most circumstances, as they are legally binding and enforceable. However, there are some exceptions to this statement. Some condo rules can be unenforceable. Condo rules are deemed unenforceable when they fall under one or more of the following categories:
- Violates rights or breaches laws: Federal and state laws, including constitutional rights, take priority over a condominium association’s governing documents. Therefore, when a rule violates the law, it becomes unenforceable.
- Enacted incorrectly: After purchasing your property, the rules and regulations within the condominium association may change. It is not uncommon for a condominium association to amend its governing documents. Many condo associations change or add to their rules. However, there is a proper way to enact the procedure within state laws and the association’s governing documents. If the condominium association changes the rules or makes a new one without following the proper procedures, then it becomes unenforceable.
- Enforced inconsistently or selectively: If your condominium association is not enforcing the rules equally and fairly or failing to follow the proper procedures and prerequisites when enforcing a rule, then there is a chance that those rules are unenforceable. State laws and the condominium association governing documents outline the procedural requirements that associations must comply with when enforcing condominium association rules. When the requirements are not met or applied inconsistently, the unit owner can challenge the enforcement of the rule. Selective enforcement is an issue that many associations face. Boards will apply a rule to one unit owner, but not another. However, condominium associations can combat selective enforcement though uniform enforcement of the condominium association rules or through a well drafted anti-waiver clause in the governing documents.
How Our Condo Lawyers Help Enforce Illinois Condominium Bylaws
If an Illinois condominium unit owner is in violation of the bylaws, several actions may be taken. First, the condo board may meet with the disputing parties to discuss the issue or send a warning letter. If an informal meeting or warning letter is not successful, then the condo board may start formal proceedings to resolve the dispute and enforce the bylaws.
After a violation of condo bylaws is turned over to our firm, we typically start by sending a demand letter, unless there is an emergency that requires immediate court involvement. If the violation of condo bylaws is not resolved, the most common method of enforcement is seeking an injunction to require the owner to comply with the bylaws. The experienced Illinois condominium lawyers at Hirzel Law, PLC can help you take the correct steps to enforce rules and bylaws while considering the rights of all involved parties.
Do Your Illinois Condominium Association Instruments Pass Muster?
One of the most common obstacles that condominium associations face is that they often require legal assistance on a year-round basis. Frequently working with contracts containing complex legalese and multiple vendors can necessitate the help of a well-qualified lawyer who has years of experience working with Illinois’ condo association laws.
Our team of experienced attorneys can help provide Illinois condo and homeowners associations with peace of mind by:
- Evaluation of the association’s governing instruments
- Review of any association board meeting minutes
- Attendance for all Board Members at Hirzel Law webinars that are presented throughout the year
Having a condominium lawyer that you can trust is necessary to the success of any association that deals with Illinois condo laws. Our team of condo and HOA attorneys have won numerous awards and have been recognized by national media news outlets throughout their years of practice.
Contact Our Condo Lawyers for Help with Enforcing Condominium Association Bylaws
Enforcing condominium bylaws is not always enjoyable for condo association Board Members, but it is necessary to keep a happy and successful community. At Hirzel Law, PLC, our Illinois condo lawyers can help your condominium association review governing instruments and enforce the bylaws, rules, and regulations. We stand by our clients, offering the highest quality legal representation and promptly responding to our clients’ needs.