The other evening I was at a board meeting and was asked what are the two biggest problems facing community associations. I thought about it for a few moments and the first thing that came to mind was deferred maintenance. Although community association living is a relatively new concept in comparison to the age of our country, however, a number of associations are 20 to 30 years old or older. In addition, as you are aware, if you live in a conversion building, the association may be relatively new but the building is old. As the buildings get older, the more maintenance is required at greater expense.

We have noticed a trend that the Board of Directors of the late 80’s and early 90’s do not believe it necessary to establish suitable reserve account funding for maintenance, repairs and/or replacements to the buildings. Due to this, a number of associations are now forced to enact large special assessments as well as obtain loans to fund this work. When I started in this business 12 years ago, loans for the associations were uncommon with very few banks provided such loans. Now loans are extremely common.

In order to protect against special assessments and loans, boards need to be more pro-active in establishing a reserve account. As you should be aware, Illinois law requires that all condominium associations have a reasonable reserve account. If you reside in a non-condominium association such as a townhouse or homeowners association, your declaration will most likely require this as well.

The second problem that I have noticed is civility among the owners. Meetings are more contentious; managers and board members are not treated with common courtesy.

We would like to remind everyone that each owner has a shared interest in the community. Owners and board members, as well, need to remember that homeowners have a substantial investment in the property. Common sense prevails that if each owner treats the other with civility and courtesy, the association will be a far better place to live.

Originally published in the Pioneer Press (February 2004).


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