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Q&A: Do We Do Windows?

Q I live in a three-story building with 108 units, 36 per level. Our self-managed board is going to pay (out of our common elements maintenance  fund) for the washing of bedroom and end unit windows, as they are difficult to  reach.  

 Our declarations and bylaws states that it is the responsibility of each owner  "to maintain, repair and replace at his expense such portions of the  appurtenances to his unit and of any exclusive use area licensed, granted or  otherwise assigned to such owner, as the association shall from time to time  determine. Until such time as the association determines to the contrary, each owner shall  be responsible for the repair, maintenance and appearance of all ...windows,  doors, vestibules and entry-ways and of all associated structures and fixtures  therein, which are appurtenances to his unit. The foregoing includes, without limitation, responsibility for all breakage,  damage, malfunctions and ordinary wear and tear of such appurtenances."  

 I am not against arranging for window washing but the bylaws make it clear that  the expense should be paid by each owner if they want the service. Is it legal  for the board to use our maintenance funds for this?  

 —Letter of the Law  

A “Yes, it is legal for your Board of Directors to use the association’s maintenance funds to wash those windows,” says Michael Kim, an attorney and partner with Michael C. Kim & Associates in Chicago. “The language that you quoted states that “Until such time as the association determines to the contrary, each owner shall  be responsible, etc.” In general, the association acts by and through its Board of Directors.  Apparently, the board has determined to exercise its (the association’s) discretion to do the window washing at the common expense. If the windows are  difficult to reach, then for aesthetic reasons and safety concerns, it would  seem appropriate for the board to take this action.”  

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