Q&A: What Majority of Ownership Is Necessary for a Condo to Purchase a Unit?

Q. If a condo association in Chicago wanted to buy a unit, what percentage of ownership is required to have this purchase be approved?  I hear it is 75 percent, but another association said it was 67 percent. Also, if it changed from 67 percent to 75 percent, when did it change?

     — Unit Owner Who Wants to Know

A. “The Illinois Condominium Property Act, Section 18(b)(13),” says attorney Mark R. Rosenbaum of the Chicago-based firm Fischel & Kahn, Ltd., “states that the bylaws of an association shall  provide for at least the following:  ‘(13) that matters subject to the affirmative vote of not less than 2/3 of the votes of unit owners at a meeting called for that purpose shall include, but not be limited to: …   (iii) the purchase or sale of land or units on behalf of all unit owners.’

 “The final paragraph of Section 18 makes any declaration or bylaw provision ‘in conflict’ with Section 18 void.  But because (b)(13) says ‘not less than 2/3,’ I interpret that to mean that if an association’s bylaws contain a provision that requires a higher percentage than 2/3 in order for an association to be authorized to buy a unit, the bylaws will control.  The only statutory requirement is that the vote not be less than 2/3.  Thus the requirement of a higher percentage than 2/3 is not in conflict with (b)(13).

“This part of (b)(13) has not been changed in a long time. Most bylaws that I have seen simply repeat the statute, with the result that an association needs only to get at least 2/3 of the votes of unit owners (and this is all by percentage interest as per Condo Act, Section 2(h)).  But if an association’s bylaws required a vote higher than 2/3, like 75 percent or 80 percent, etc., I believe that higher percentage would be controlling.

“Despite my interpretation, it is possible that a court could decide that (b)(13) does, in fact, require that 2/3 be the floor of such a vote, and that higher percentage voting requirements are, in fact, ‘in conflict’ with the subsection.   I am not aware of a court decision on this issue.”

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