By Juan Vaglienty


Whether you purchased your condominium as an investment or as your primary residence you should become familiar with your condominium declaration and the Illinois Condominium Property Act (Act), 765 ILCS 605.  Recently over the past few years, condominium ownership has become very popular among real estate purchasers. Condominium ownership provides a unique form of ownership in that the unit owner is both the sole owner of his unit and also a co-owner with all other unit owners of the common elements of the condominium property.  This type of ownership requires a harmonious coexistence with other unit owners.  However, many times disputes may arise between the developer and unit owners or between the board of the association and the unit owners. Unit owners may look to their condo declaration or the Illinois Condominium Act for direction in resolving these problems.  A successful coexistence among condo owners can be achieved if condo declarations are drafted properly and the association is administered in accordance with the Condominium Act. Thus, this article will summarize some of the most important provisions found in the Act. 




In order for the existence of the association to take place, Section 6 of the Act requires that a condominium declaration must be recorded.  A properly drafted condominium declaration will define the units, the limited common elements, percentage of interest breakdown for each unit, the rights and obligations of the unit owners and it will also include the bylaws for the association. The condominium declaration is important because it provides the basic legal skeletal work of the association.  The association derives its legal authority from the declaration.  Once the declaration is recorded every subsequent purchaser is assumed to have consented to the covenants, restrictions, and obligations contained in the declaration.  The Act requires certain provisions to be included in every condominium declaration.  The Act will either supplement or supersede a declaration that does not have these required provisions.   




The Act provides for guidelines that every Developer must follow in administering a newly formed association.  Section 18.2(b)(i) of the Act obligates that the developer hold the election of the initial board of managers no later than 60 days following the conveyance of 75% of the units or 3 years after the recording of the declaration, whichever is earlier.  Section 18.2(d) requires certain important deliveries that the developer must make to the board following 60 days from the board’s election.  One such delivery is that the developer shall deliver a detailed accounting of cost and receipts related to administering the building while the association was under the developer’s control.  These provisions are very important to purchasers of new condos.  If a declaration was properly drafted these provisions should have been included in the declaration.  Also, knowing when the turnover should take place allows a unit owner to keep track of the developer’s compliance with its obligations to the association.  The delivery of the detailed accounting will also allow unit owners to verify that the collected assessments were properly administered while under the control of the developer.  Under Section 9(a) of the Act the developer is responsible for all common expenses prior to the conveyance of the first unit.  After the first conveyance it is the responsibility of each unit owner and the developer to pay its proportionate share of common expenses.  The detailed accounting delivered by the developer at the turnover meeting should provide the unit owners with information as to whether these responsibilities were met by the developer and the other unit owners.  




  One of the disclosures required from the developer upon entering into a contract for the sale of a condo is to deliver to the prospective purchaser a copy of the declaration.  This is also a delivery requirement for every resale of a unit by an owner who is not the initial developer.  The reason for this requirement is quite clear: as stated above, the declaration contains the rights and obligations of the unit owner and defines the unit being purchased.  So for example, you should review the condo declaration for rental restrictions, if you are an investor who is purchasing a condo for the purpose of renting the unit.  Likewise, you should review the condo declaration to verify that the association permits pets if you are a purchaser who owns a pet.   These are typical restrictions that would be found in the declaration.  The declaration will also provide a definition of your unit and your assigned limited common element.  These definitions are important in determining whether or not you are being conveyed the unit you were promised and that you are entitled to the sole use of the limited common element assigned to your unit.    




As stated above the bylaws of the association may be included in the declaration or attached as an exhibit to the declaration.  Section 18 of the Act requires that the bylaws govern the administration of the condominium.  Some of the required provisions in the bylaws will include who may be a member of the board, how the board is elected, and the number of members of the board. The bylaws will also contain the manner in which a board may adopt rules restricting the use of units and the common elements.  Another important provision required to be included in the bylaws is the power and duties of the board of directors.  Section 18.4(l) grants the authority to the board the ability to impose fines on unit owners for late payments. This section also allows the board after notice and the opportunity to a hearing to impose fines for the violations of the declaration, bylaws, or rules and regulations against a unit owner.   The board must also provide members of the association with notice of the proposed annual budget and notice of any separate assessment to be adopted.  The Act requires that the bylaws provide the manner in which unit owners may reject a budget or a separate assessment exceeding 115% of the sum of all the regular and separate assessments payable in the preceding year.  The bylaws must also provide that board members may not enter into contracts with a current board member, their family member or entities in which the member or their family has a 25% or more interest, unless notice of intent to enter into a such contract is provided to unit owners as required by the Act. Furthermore, unit owners may request that a vote be taken to approve or disapprove the contract.  Thus, unit owners who wish to question and challenge a proposed increase in their assessments or a proposed contract may find a procedural solution within their bylaws. 




The purpose of this article was to make condo owners aware of the important provisions found within their condominium declaration and to introduce them to the Illinois Condominium Property Act.  This awareness will help them navigate issues that may arise when owning a condominium.  There are many provisions that are not covered by this article that every condo owner should be familiar with in regards to their condo declaration and the Condominium Act.  Unit owners should consult an attorney for a more detailed explanation to the law that applies to their particular situation.