Q&A: The Windows of the World

Q I believe as a board member that since shareholders are lessees/renters, and the corporation is the lessor/landlord, the corporation should bear responsibility for the maintenance and repair or replacement of the entire facade of the building, which would include the windows. Our board however has a different opinion and says the shareholder or unit owner should provide their own financing for window replacement. The corporation's bylaws require that the board "maintain the building as a first-class apartment building.” Is it not best practices for the apartment owners/corporation to pay for window replacement on a per-share basis?

—Confused in Calumet City

A “Best practices are dictated by your operating documents or case law defining the terms used in your operating documents and the board is to strictly follow them,” says Attorney Sima L. Kirsch of the Law Office of Sima Kirsch P.C. in Chicago.

“These documents usually spell out the corporation’s responsibility for the exterior elements of your building. If the bylaws call for replacement on a per-share basis then that is the board’s directive. Sometimes windows are carved out as being one of the responsibilities of the owner or the bylaws permit the board to decide how such a project is to be handled. In these circumstances the documents allow the board to assess which units need the work; they then undertake the work and then charge it back to the owner. Even if the entire exterior—including windows—is the responsibility of the board, but the bylaws indicate the windows are for the specific use of each unit, and/or the bylaws permit the board to decide how to handle, they can require those units to pay the remaining balance. As always, without having the benefit of reading your documents, this is a global answer to your question. In addition, this information is not provided as legal advice and you should consult an attorney in the field who can help you assess your particular factual situation.”

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