Q I live in a very small building community in suburban Chicago and our condo board has turned over our building to a manager who is running the condo as he sees fit without any input from the board or from residents. He seems to be running the condo as if the unit owners work for him and not the other way around. The board is very apathetic and doesn’t like to interfere. How can we change this pattern so that the manager is more responsive as they should be to our concerns? What if any recourse do the unhappy unit owners have? It is not only affecting the morale of the building community but management operations have suffered as well. What can we do?
—A Deaf Ear in Des Plaines
A “It is critical to remember that a management company or professional manager can never assume control of an association,” says attorney James Erwin of Chicago-based Erwin & Associates, LLC. “That should not happen.
“That role is strictly reserved to the Board of Directors. A manager hired by the Board of Directors should be responsive to the board and the owners. If not, as in your case, the owners, by a petition signed by 20% of the ownership, can request that the board hold a special meeting to discuss the conduct of the manager and to vote on the termination of his/her contract. Likewise, directors owe the ownership a fiduciary duty to ensure that the association property and assets are being properly managed. And if those directors shirk their duties and fail to comply with their responsibilities to oversee the manager, then the unit owners should vote in new directors at the next election opportunity.”