Q&A: UOA, MA, and HOA: What Are the Differences?

Q. We reside in a medium-sized condominium complex in the Chicago suburbs, consisting of five separate condo associations and one homeowners’ association. After reading through several sections of the Illinois Condominium Property Act (ICPA), we are confused about Section 18.3, Unit Owners’ Association (UOA); Section 18.5, Master Associations (MA); and a Homeowners’ Association (HOA). Is homeowners’ association the commonly used title for a master association? Is a UOA a condo association?

What is the difference between a UOA, an MA, and an HOA? Since the MA is part of and described in the ICPA, is an MA subject to all the sections of the ICPA or only to the provisions in Section 18.5? Is there specific wording in an MA document, other than stating it is an MA, that gives it the power to manage the condo associations?

Do the condo associations’ documents have to state that they are granting the management of their association to the MA? What is the wording that grants these powers? If the condo associations’ documents do not state they give any powers to an MA, can this HOA still be an MA? Do the condo associations’ documents have to specifically name the MA in their own documents? Is this part of the declaration or the bylaws? Does the wording of the document title, such as Declaration of Condominium or Declaration of Covenants decide whether it is an MA or a HOA?

                                     —Please Explain

A. “Unit owners’ association is actually just the condominium association,” says attorney Matthew Goldberg of Bancroft, Richman & Goldberg, LLC, which has offices in Chicago and St. Charles. “The term ‘condominium association’ is actually not a defined term.  However, the term ‘unit owners’ association’ or ‘association’ is defined in Section 2(o) of the Condominium Act and means ‘the association of all the unit owners, acting pursuant to bylaws through its duly elected board of managers.’ So to answer your first question, a unit owners’ association as found in Section 18.3 of the Condominium Act is just another way of saying condominium association. With the exception of Section 18.5 only condominiums are subject to the Condominium Act. Typically, you can recognize a condominium association easily because the governing declaration will include the word ‘condominium’ or ‘a condominium’ right in the title. If the governing documents do not contain those words, the association like falls into another category.

“A master association on the other hand is an association of multiple condominium associations and is only governed by Section 18.5 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act. The governing document creating the master association should specify what if any authority has been delegated to the master association by the subservient condominium associations and at a minimum contain if not directly then by operation of law, the requirements of Sections 18.5(c) through (h). Reference to the master association should be found in the condominium declaration but it could also be in the bylaws.”                

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