Apr 03, 2018

City of Chicago amends municipal code regarding condominium records access by unit owners

The Chicago City Council has passed an amendment to the City of Chicago Municipal Code section 13-72-080 pertaining to unit owner access rights for condominium association records. This amendment would allow an association to avoid owner authorization to names, street addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and weighted vote, unless two-thirds of the owners vote to allow such access. The ordinance as passed states that upon such vote, Section 19 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act (Act) would apply. This ordinance, once effective after a subsequent Council meeting, will allow condominium associations within Chicago to protect owner contact information from unit owner inspection.

Similar changes and alterations are being proposed but are not yet approved regarding Section 19 of the Act in Springfield.

While this ordinance seems to be a wonderful reprieve from the often criticized changes to Section 19 of the Act that allow owners the right to access contact information for their neighbors so long as the information will not be used for commercial purposes, the ordinance is potentially subject to challenge. Section 18(b)(4) of the Act requires that condominium bylaws state the method of calling meetings of the owners. Some bylaws indicate that owners holding 20 percent of the unit ownership may call a unit owners' meeting. Other bylaws provide that owners holding 20 percent of the unit ownership may deliver a petition for a meeting to the Board, who shall then call the meeting of the owners. The problem here is that for associations where owners may call a unit owners’ meeting, the ordinance as drafted would preclude access to information necessary to distribute notice of that meeting—owner addresses, and for associations who have adopted electronic notice, email addresses—thus creating a problem. This problem is yet unresolved but could lead to future legal challenges.

The City of Chicago as a home rule municipality does have the legal authority to enact restrictive ordinances compared to prevailing state law, but home rule is not limitless when an ordinance contradicts other provisions of state law. This issue may create additional legal questions as state and local legislators grapple with improving protections for owner privacy.

Chuhak & Tecson, P.C.’s Principals David Bloomberg and Jamie Stevens will discuss unit owner and association privacy issues at the 2018 CAI Legal Forum on Thursday, April 12. Be sure to get your tickets in advance.

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