Should Board Members Live Onsite?
Do you believe board members that live onsite in their unit or home make better board members? Do they care more about the property and the people than board members that live offsite? This debate has been ongoing for as long as I have been practicing law in the condo and community association arena (approximately 15 years now, eek).
While arguments can be made both ways, the Illinois General Assembly recently enacted a new law addressing this hot button issue. As of January 1, 2022, any condominium declaration being recorded for the first time or any amendment to the condominium instruments adopted by a board of managers, may provide that a majority of the board of managers, or such lesser number as may be specified in the declaration, must be comprised of unit owners occupying their unit as their primary residence. The declaration may not, however, require that more than a majority of the board be comprised of unit owners who occupy their unit as their principal residence.
Condominium association boards may now require a majority of the board members to live onsite. In practice, this likely has minimal impact on many condominium associations throughout Illinois since most boards already consist of a majority of board members that live onsite. However, perhaps this is a small step taken by the Illinois General Assembly to inch a bit closer to the day when condominium association boards may adopt policies requiring owners to live onsite to serve on the board of managers.
It is undeniable that onsite owner board members have a better grasp on the pulse of the community for which they serve. This personal insight results from walking the property - or portions of it - each morning before heading out for the day and again at night upon returning home. On weekends and weeknights some board members walk the property for exercise and to gather knowledge concerning the condition of the property. Unplanned conversations about association issues and concerns inevitably occur between board members and unit owners while enjoying and using the property in which they live.
While offsite owner board members may have a similar desire to inspect the property and familiarize themselves with pressing Association issues, they are unable due to the everyday demands of life. Making a special trip to the community in which they own a unit may prove inconvenient or unnecessary. Offsite owners used to visit the property to attend any open board meetings or informal board workshops held onsite (limited of course to the 6 exceptions for which boards may meet in private). However, with the recent pandemic and advancements in technology, offsite owners are beginning to attend open board meetings remotely. As such, they do not have the same luxury of walking the property day and night as do onsite owners.
One idea boards may wish to consider is to capitalize on the benefits of technology to enable offsite owners to more actively participate in association business. For example, boards may invite offsite owners to participate in an onsite landscape walk thru using Facetime. This allows that board member to be present “virtually” during and throughout the landscape walk thru on association property, to take notes and ask questions of the association vendor that come to mind. Another idea is for offsite owners to participate in closed session board meetings remotely over zoom to meaningfully participate despite not being physically present. The idea being to take advantage of technology and all that it offers to increase board member participation for offsite owners.
As technology continues enhancing and improving boards will find new and creative ways to allow for board member participation. However, the impact of board members that live onsite cannot be understated. For more association articles and topics to enjoy visit www.shifrinlegal.com.