Q&A: Random Miscellaneous Fees

I was wondering if you had any information about whether a co-op management company is required by law to answer questions of random fees on a monthly statement. I've been struggling for 6 months with my management company and they 1) won't give me straight answers; 2) won't meet with me personally/only via email or phone; 3) only respond in grand vague statements that they cannot remove these fees; and, 4) refuse to provide me with details on what these fees are for. (The fees are identified only as miscellaneous fees.)

—Concerned in Cicero

“In Illinois, there are likely to be several different types of authority enabling you to get the requested information,” says Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney at Fischel & Kahn in Chicago. “First, a co-op is typically governed by a proprietary lease document. In addition, if your co-op is a corporation (either a for-profit or a not-for-profit corporation), the co-op will be governed by both articles of incorporation and bylaws.

“While the proprietary lease is less likely to be the place that authorizes your access to the information you are requesting, it might do so. As between the articles of incorporation and the bylaws, it is more likely the bylaws will be the place to find a provision specifying your right to obtain the type of documents and/or information you are seeking.

“If neither the proprietary lease, the articles of incorporation nor the bylaws specify your rights in that regard, you may have statutory rights Although co-ops, unlike condos and common interest community associations (commonly referred to as townhomes), do not have a separate governing statute, if your co-op is a corporation, then either Section 7.75 of the Illinois General Business Corporation Act or Section 107.75 of the Illinois General Not-for-Profit Corporation Act permits you to obtain various information and documents from your co-op, upon proper request.

“If your co-op is not a corporation, it may still have some other document (other than the proprietary lease), like a trust agreement, which may spell out your right to the information you are seeking.

“I would suggest that if your management company is not being responsive, you bring the issue to the attention of your co-op board. It might not be aware of the matter. If that fails, you may have to file a lawsuit to obtain the needed information.”