Q&A: Spouses and Serving on the Board

Q At our condo in Hyde Park, the declaration and bylaws state clearly that only one representative from any one unit is allowed to serve on the board at one time. We have a peculiar situation here. Two single residents married, and they were both on the board at the time of their marriage. (In fact, ironically, he was president and she was vice president at the time.) Although they each still own a unit, they live together in her unit while his son and son's family reside in his unit. I have checked the Cook County Recorder of Deeds records and found no change in ownership of either unit. However, if not legally forbidden, isn't the fact that they live together in one unit and are both serving on the board an ethical violation of some sort? She is currently the president of the board; he does not hold an office. Shouldn't one of them resign from the board for ethical or moral reasons if not for legal ones?

—Conflicted in Cook County

A “The Illinois Condominium Property Act, 765 ILCS 605/18(a)(1), provides that only one owner per unit may serve on the board,” says attorney Steven D. Welhouse of The Sterling Law Office, LLC, based in Chicago. “If two persons, such as a husband and wife, jointly own a single unit, only one of those persons may serve on the board during a given term period. As such, Section 18(a)(1) precludes a husband and wife serving together unless they own more than one unit. This provision does not preclude a husband and wife, each of which owns a separate unit, but live together in one of them, from being board members at the same time.

“From the language in your question, your association's declaration and bylaws appear to track Section 18(a)(1) of the Condominium Act. If that is the case, then it is legal for the husband and wife unit owners to both serve on your association's board, given that they each own a unit. By allowing one owner per unit to serve on a board, Section 18(a)(1) has implicitly decided your question of whether or not the husband's and wife's concurrent board membership is ethical or moral.”