Q: I am an owner in a small suburban townhome association. Approximately 25% of our townhome association’s yearly budget is spent on landscaping, which the association is responsible for maintaining, repairing and replacing. However, there is no input from the owners regarding landscaping maintenance, repair or replacement, and the board of directors makes all the landscaping decisions. Is this proper governance procedure?
A: Unless the governing documents require the creation of a landscaping committee composed of owners to make decisions related to landscaping in the association, the board of directors of a community association has the authority to make all decisions regarding the maintenance, repair and replacement of common area landscaping, and if the declaration so states, landscaping on the lots themselves.
The board of directors also has the authority to enter into contracts to accomplish the maintenance, repair and replacement of the landscaping. The board’s authority is found in the townhome declaration and bylaws and/or the Common Interest Community Association Act if the act is applicable to the community association, which might not be the case as there are exemptions for some small associations in Section 1-75 of the act.
Q: I am on the board of a small condominium association. A realtor representing a unit owner selling their unit has requested certain financial information on the association including the amount of money in reserves. Do we have to give that information to the realtor?
A: As a preliminary matter, any unit owner, including a unit owner selling their unit, is entitled to inspect, and make copies of, the books and records of account of the association per Section 19 of the Condominium Act. Thus, while a realtor is not entitled to inspect or receive copies of books and records of the association, their client is entitled to that information and in theory could share it with their realtor.
Additionally, section 22.1(a)(4) of the Condominium Act requires a condominium association to make available for inspection to a prospective purchaser, upon demand, the status and amount of any reserve fund for replacements and the portion of the reserve fund earmarked for a specific project by the board, if any. Therefore, providing the amount of reserves to a realtor marketing a unit for sale is reasonable because prospective purchasers will ask for that information and are entitled to it in any case per applicable law.
Q: I’m on the board of directors of a townhome association and our bylaws state the exteriors of townhomes shall be painted every five years. Given the improvement in paint quality since the bylaws were recorded decades ago, the board of directors feels repainting every five years is not necessary and would like to extend the time period before repainting is required. Can the bylaws be revised by a board vote, or is owner approval needed to make a change?
A: A covenant or restriction in the bylaws can only be changed by amending the bylaws. The bylaws will contain an amendment provision that governs the process and owner approval required to make such a change. Customarily, bylaws for a homeowners association requires at least 2/3 owner approval.
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