Suit Happens Dealing With Legal Trouble in Your HOA

 You may think it’ll never happen to you. You're the nicest person around. You love your  neighbors, and have never quarreled with the board of your condo community over  anything. This is all great—but unfortunately, it doesn't amount to much when legal issues flare up.  Accusations fly. Feelings are hurt. Lawyers get involved. And the whole thing  goes downhill from there.  

 In the context of a co-op or condo community, legal issues can surface for any  reason—between a resident and the board, between two or more residents, or between a  group of residents and the board or management, just to name a few of the more  common permutations. Knowing the best practices to use when a lawsuit hits your  association is key in getting through it and moving on from the experience.  

 Follow Suit

 The past few years have seen an increase in the number of complaints filed with  the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the City of Chicago Commission on  Human Rights, which handles fair housing, discrimination, inaccessibility and  other related actions. Kelly Elmore, a principal with the Buffalo Grove-based  law firm of Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit, attributes the rise to bad economic times. “The trend we see is that when people don’t have money, they tend to sue more. They’re disgruntled, and looking for a way to make a quick buck.”  

 Whether you’re an association or individual, Elmore advises the first thing you should do  immediately upon learning that you're being sued is contact your attorney so he  or she can “file an appearance.” This indicates to the court and the parties involved that you have legal  representation, and includes all the associated contact information for  subsequent communication between parties.  

 For an association being sued by an individual, another reason to involve an  attorney right away is because as a not-for-profit corporation, a condo  association can’t represent itself, Elmore explains. She notes that there has been debate in the  legal community about changing this stipulation depending on the size of the  building—“It applies to a four-unit building the same as a 400-unit building”—but for now, it applies to everyone.  


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  • In my opinion to avoid unnecessary litigation, IL legislators should approve the bill that would establish the office of the omnibus to protect the rights of condominium's owners and to keep the money hungry lawyers at bay!