Too often, new condo owners receive their Declaration & By-Laws at closing and file them away, never to be seen again.  But these documents are the basis for governing your Association.  When there is conflict, the issue can almost always be settled by consulting your Declaration & By-Laws.  Understanding the purpose of these documents will help to decrease conflict among owners.

All condominium associations are governed by the IL Condo Act.  The Act outlines the minimum requirements for all condominium associations.  Your Declaration & By-Laws are built upon the IL Condo Act, incorporating other details and specifics for the governing of your particular Association.  When there is a discrepancy, the Association’s governing documents prevail, provided they adhere to the minimum requirements set forth in the IL Condo Act.

Every owner should read the Declaration & By-Laws.  Granted, there is a lot of legal language in the documents and it isn’t particularly riveting reading.  However, having even a rudimentary understanding of the information contained in the documents is essential for every condo owner.  In short, the Declaration & By-Laws set forth the rules and procedures that guide Board decisions and actions as well as outline how owners are to live in the community.

When it comes to matters of business for the Association, the Declaration & By-Laws are indispensable for Board members.  Board members should have a hard copy of the governing documents in front of them at every Board meeting, so that they can be consulted as needed when a question arises about how to handle certain situations.  Nearly every question Board members ask when there is a conflict elicits the counter question “What does the Declaration & By-Laws say?”  Your governing documents are the first place Board members should look for answers.

The IL Condo Act is also of great value to the Board and to condo owners.  It may be necessary to cross-reference information in the Association’s governing documents with the IL Condo Act to be certain that the information is valid and enforceable.

Referencing & quoting your Declaration & By-Laws or the IL Condo Act comes in handy when the Board takes action and an owner disagrees.  The Board should be able to back up their actions and decisions with legal proof of the validity of those actions and decisions.  If every decision is made in line with the governing documents, the Board will have no reason to fear any retaliation from disgruntled owners.  We’ve found that certain individuals are prone to threatening legal action whenever they disagree with a Board decision.  If the Board has acted within the rights outlined in the governing documents, those threats will have no weight.