Q: From time to time, owners in our building will bake things like bread, cookies, and cakes and set them out on a table in our lobby for other residents to enjoy. The board is concerned about the liability risks for the club if we allow this to happen. Does the board need to worry?
A: Many clubs have events where residents offer homemade baked goods. However, I assume that the situation you describe is that of food being left “anonymously” and/or “unattended”.
The club is liable in this scenario for personal injury (e.g. tampering by a third party, accidental food poisoning) if that damage resulted from the club’s negligence. It could be considered negligent to allow residents to leave groceries anonymously and unattended. I’m not suggesting that.
The board might consider hosting some sort of community event among residents, where residents can share their home-cooked food with other residents.
Q: I am on the board of a homeowners association. We have tried unsuccessfully to amend the statement to limit the number of rentable units. The Board has discussed a concept whereby owners must own a unit for a year before they can lease that unit. is this valid
A: For a variety of reasons, owners may be reluctant to approve a change that limits the number of units for rent. However, those same owners can accept a restriction that requires an owner to own a unit for a specified period of time before they can lease that unit.
Some associations require the owner to own and occupy the unit for a period of time before it can be leased. The purpose of the provision is to discourage the purchase of units for the sole purpose of rental. Such a change should stand up to judicial scrutiny.
Q: Does the Homeownership Act describe what units of insurance owners must purchase?
A: Insurance is subject to Section 12 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act. The law focuses on the types of insurance to be maintained by the association. The insurance that a homeowners association must maintain includes property insurance, general liability insurance, bond of trust, and directors’ and officers’ insurance.
The declaration may also require the association to obtain any other insurance, including industrial injury, employment practices, environmental hazards and equipment failure, that the board of directors deems appropriate to protect the association, the owners of the units and the officers, directors or agents of the association .
However, the law does not require insurance to be borne by the owners. However, Section 12(h) of the Act provides that the Board of Directors may, pursuant to the Declaration and Articles of Association or by Rule, require unit owners to obtain insurance covering their personal liability and compensation (but not consequential damages) of another unit due to the negligence of the owner or his guests, residents and invitees or notwithstanding any negligence attributable to the unit.
The personal liability of a homeowner or association member must include the excess of the owner whose home has been damaged, any damage not covered by insurance under this provision, and decorating, painting, repairing or replacing wall and floor coverings, furnishings, appliances , equipment and other furnishings.
If an association requires this insurance, they should seek advice from their insurance advisor on the minimum amounts of such insurance that owners must obtain.
Nonetheless, owners should speak to their own insurance advisor about the types and amounts of insurance he or she should purchase.
Note that the Association of Common Interest Groups Act does not contain any requirements for insurance to be maintained by the association or the owners.
• David M. Bendoff is an attorney at Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in the Chicago suburbs. Submit column questions to [email protected] The law firm offers legal services for condominiums, townhouses, homeowners associations and housing cooperatives. This column is not a substitute for legal advice.