Q&A: Following the Rules

Q We are an established vintage lakefront condominium property. Since conversion to a condominium form of ownership, the association has adopted several policies according to the state condominium act. They are given to each new owner and posted on our website. Now we have a board member who states that the board does not have to follow the existing policies because he did not vote for them. Please advise if the board can simply ignore the adopted policies.

—A Rule Breaker

A “As an initial note, “policies” are different than the rules and regulations of a condominium association,” says attorney Kelly Elmore of the law firm of Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in Chicago. “The Board of Directors of an association may adopt policies to assist in the internal administration of the association; however, it is the rules and regulations of the association that govern the administration of association and affect all unit owners and residents in the association.

“The Illinois Condominium Property Act grants the board the express authority to prepare and adopt rules and regulations affecting the operation and use of the association property. This authority allows the board to adopt new rules and regulations from time to time to address the changing needs of an association. All unit owners, including members of the Board of Directors, are bound by the properly-adopted rules and regulations. The Act clearly states in Section 18(q) that a unit owner may not avoid the duties, responsibilities, and liabilities under the rules and regulations of the Association.

“In order for the rules and regulations to be effective, they must be properly adopted and the board must follow the correct procedure. Section 18.4(h) of the Act sets forth the procedure for adoption of the association’s rules and regulations. This section requires the board to send notice of a meeting to the owners, which meeting must be conducted for the specific purpose of discussing the proposed rules and regulations. In addition to the notice of the meeting, the board must send a copy of the proposed rules and regulations to all of the unit owners, which copy must contain the full text of the proposed rules and regulations. When sending the notice and proposed rules and regulations, the board must follow the notice requirements set forth in the Act.

“After the notice and proposed rules and regulations have been sent to the unit owners, the board must conduct the meeting for the unit owners to discuss the proposed rules and regulations. Following this meeting, the board members may then proceed with a vote to adopt the rules and regulations. Notably, the unit owners do not vote on approval of the rules and regulations.

“Accordingly, as long as a Board of Directors properly adopts the rules and regulations pursuant to the procedures set forth in the Act, the board members and all unit owners must follow them. Section 18 (n)(i) of the Act also makes clear that the rules and regulations do not only apply to unit owners, but they also apply to any person leasing a unit and are deemed to be incorporated in any lease executed by a unit owner.

“Finally, Section 18(l) of the Act states that the bylaws of a condominium association shall provide for the method of adopting and of amending administrative rules and regulations governing the operation and use of the common elements. Accordingly, unit owners should consult their condominium documents to determine whether the association has an additional method for adoption and amendment of the rules and regulations.”