Q&A: Paying for Repair Work

Q. Our declarations state that maintenance the roof, grounds, and common areas, etc., is the association’s responsibility.  The board acknowledges this responsibility. Last year, the roofs had shingles damaged and missing due to wind.  The board had a roofer come out to assess the damage and repair the roofs.  The board discussed during an April board meeting but did not vote to have the unit owners pay for the repair of their roof.  The board sent out bills (not itemized as to how many shingles used, or labor cost)  to the unit owners in April indicating the amount they owed and a date by which the bill needed to be paid.  

It wasn’t until June that the board voted to have the unit owners pay for their roof damage.  At that same board meeting, the board asked the unit owners if they did not wish to participate in the association, they can opt out.  Any maintenance would then be the unit owners’ responsibility.    

Can the board make a unit owner pay their portion of work performed in April but not voted to pass the cost onto the unit owners until June?  Do unit owners have any recourse?

There are also some trees within the association that have been afflicted with a fungus.  The board approached the unit owners who have the trees on the property, requesting $15 from each to have the landscaper spray the trees. Can the board do that without it being voted on?

      —Questioning Board Procedures

A. “Although the exact procedural requirements will depend upon the type of association and the requirements of its governing documents, it appears clear that this association needs to solidify its governance practices,” says attorney Scott Roselund of Fullett Rosenlund Anderson PC, based in Chicago and Lake Zurich. “Major exterior building component repairs and other association operational expenses should be incorporated into a board-approved budget and charged to the association members as part of the common expenses. Membership in the association is mandatory; individual members opting out of the association is not a viable option. Association spending decisions should be approved by the board at open board meetings. While non-emergency association expenses made without formal board approval technically might be challenged under certain circumstances, the most practical and realistic course of action for the members is to elect board members who are committed to conducting operations in accordance with applicable laws, the governing documents, and responsible business practices. Also, the retention of or increased consultation with community association industry professionals, such as a community association management firm and legal counsel, should help this association conduct operations in a more professional manner.”

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