Mar 20, 2020
Remote meetings, emergency situations and electronic solutions guide
As situations change and our routines adjust, many Board Members and property managers wonder what their legal requirements are during this time. Business must go on and, luckily, the Illinois Condominium Property Act, Illinois Common Interest Community Association Act and the General Not for Profit Corporation Act, which, together, cover all Illinois community Associations of all forms, allow for telephonic appearance at Board meetings. This means directors cast their votes via the telephone so long as Owners can “attend/conference in” and hear the Board’s business during the call.
As many Associations switch to telephonic or electronic meetings, open meeting guidelines must be followed. Owners must be able to hear the open Board meeting, therefore, property managers are responsible for circulating a call-in number and ensuring that a speakerphone is available or they need to schedule a digital conference to limit person-to-person contact. Most Owners have a telephone and can dial in to listen to a meeting. It is also permissible to broadcast the meeting on a speakerphone at the clubhouse, common area or usual meeting place while practicing social distancing. A meeting notice must be distributed via mail or a delivery service at least 48 hours in advance. As many Owners have differing fluency with the use of electronic meetings and video conferencing, it is recommended that conference calls may be easier to implement for most communities.
Community Association Boards also have existing protections for closed session topics that may be discussed outside of an open meeting, including exchanges of emails. For condominiums and many homeowner Associations, this includes legal matters, advice and discussions with counsel regarding violations, collections and employee and contractor hiring and termination. Note that all votes on action regarding these items must be part of the open meeting.
Boards also have emergency powers to act to protect the property in situations that pose an immediate danger to the structure of the property and other life-safety issues. Votes for these matters must be called at a properly noticed Board meeting within seven business days after the action is taken to ratify it.
Given the extensive person-to-person nature of annual meetings, it may be wise to consider postponing them if possible. Directors remain Board Members until they resign or when the next election is called, not just at the expiration of their calendar term, so it is permissible to reschedule annual elections in the interim.
It is increasingly allowable for Owners to sign amendments that require their consent using an electronic signature, such as a document signed and scanned that displays the Owner’s signature.
In the event that your community requires an amendment during any present disruption, please contact a Chuhak & Tecson Condominium & Common Interest Community Association attorney to discuss the next steps and to develp an electronic implementation plan to do so. Above all, we remain available to assist with your Association’s legal needs and questions. Together, and with careful attention to limiting non-essential Board matters, we will collaborate to ensure your communities’ continued and successful operations.
This Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. communication is intended only to provide information regarding developments in the law and information of general interest. It is not intended to constitute advice regarding legal problems and should not be relied upon as such.
Client alert authored by: James R. Stevens, Principal