Breaking Bad Dealing with Rule Breakers

 As the old saw goes, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. The same idea  often holds true for residents who choose to ignore bylaws or house rules, even  if they are well-intended and in place to serve the greater good of the  community. In the end, it’s the board that must take the pulse of the community and determine what rules  are appropriate and instruct the managing agent to enforce them as necessary.

 Setting the Rules

 Boards play a central role in regards to rules and regulations for homeowner  associations. They have the power to make them, and the responsibility to  enforce them, and enforce them fairly. Unlike other states, Illinois provides a  framework for this.  

 “The rules generally regulate the day-to-day activity of unit owners. Rules and  regulations cannot be used to limit ownership rights, like the right to lease.  You can't restrict rentals or say 'no pets' in rules and regulations but they  can be used to regulate,” says Ebony Lucas of The Property Law Group in Chicago.  

 As an authority in the association, boards have to play a leadership role in the  association that sets precedents for the entire building or complex. “The board will have the best understanding of certain situations and dynamics  that are happening within their own community. To the extent that it's  reasonable, they may pass rules to address conduct, behavior, or conditions  that need to be changed. The role of the board is to pass those rules,” says Steven Welhouse, an attorney at The Sterling Law Office in Chicago.  

 There are plenty of situations that call into question the validity of a rule or  a resident’s or tenant’s willingness to adhere to those rules. These include pet policies, noise  complaints and issues such as whether smoking is allowed in common areas, or  not at all. “Where a rule seeks to prevent a group of people or a type of person from doing  something, and the rule wouldn't otherwise be applicable to the other  ownership, you're probably talking about a bad rule,” says Welhouse.  


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  • Your article addresses several topics regarding the Board's responsibilities in making and enforcing rules and regulations, but what recourse is there when the Board violates their own bylaws?