By Attorney Conor Grealish
When a condominium owner's condo is damaged, it can be a nightmare figuring out who is responsible for making those repairs. Some homeowner associations (“HOA”) offer little to no assistance for the suffering owner or refuse to take responsibility for repairs hiding behind the legalese of the HOA's declarations and bylaws. Other times, an owner can suffer damage from another condo owner's negligence who then refuses to take responsibility for his own actions. The Illinois Condominium Property Act (765 ILCS 605/) offers protections to harmed owners as it outlines the rights and responsibilities that owners and HOAs have with respect to maintenance and repairs in a condo complex.
Each condo owner is responsible for the maintenance and repairs within their own condo. Basically, everything within the “four walls” of the condo. If a condo owner negligently maintains his condo and it damages another condo, the negligent owner will be responsible for the damages to the other owner. Additionally, if a negligent owner damages the common elements, for example shared pipes for plumbing, the negligent owner will also be liable for those repairs.
That said, generally it is the HOA's responsibility to maintain and repair the common elements of a condominium, such as the roof or exterior walls. However, it is not uncommon for HOAs to shift their responsibilities to condo owners to avoid paying for the repairs. When this situation arises, condo owners should carefully review the definition of what the common elements are within HOA's declarations and bylaws to ensure that their HOA is not avoiding their legal obligations.
Finally, if a condo owner believes that their HOA is not fully transparent in making the appropriate repairs or maintaining the common elements in general, all condominium owners have the right to review certain records created by their HOA. For example, the HOA must provide minutes of all meetings held by the HOA, any contracts entered into by the HOA, and the books and records of the HOA upon request. This allows condo owners to monitor how their assessments are used and ensures that the HOA is not engaging in wasteful spending. If the HOA refuses to provide the records requested by a condo owner, that condo owner may file a lawsuit against his HOA and seek the recovery of attorneys' fees.
If you are a condominium owner in Illinois have any issue with your HOA or issues with other condo owners in general do not hesitate to contact CTM Legal Group at 312.818.6700 for assistance.