In the August 17, 2012 edition of the Chigaco Tribune, Ronald L. Perl, Esq., the partner-in-charge of Hill Wallack LLP’s Community Associations Group, was quoted in the article “Ruling Could Change Course of Collection Proceedings.”
The article discusses the Illinois Appellate Court’s recent decision in Spanish Court Two Condominium Association v. Lisa Carlson, which involved the association’s lawsuit against an owner for nonpayment of assessments under Illinois’ Forcible Entry and Detainer Act. That Act allows associations to take temporary possession of a unit and rent it out in order to pay the delinquency. The owner countersued the association, alleging a failure to maintain and repair the common elements as required by its governing documents.
The Trial Court ruled in favor of the association, but the Illinois Second District Appellate Court disagreed. The three-judge panel determined that associations are duty-bound to repair and maintain the common elements and that neglect can be viable defense, at least in eviction cases like this one. Comparing the relationships between landlords and tenants to associations and owners, they wrote: “[j]ust as the contract principle of mutually exchanged promises can justify a tenant’s refusal to pay rent, so that principle can justify a condominium unit owner’s refusal to pay assessments.”
Disagreeing with the Court’s ruling, Mr. Perl stated: “This makes it exceedingly easy for any owner to say, ‘I’m dissatisfied with services; therefore, I’m not going to pay my assessments.’ If a significant number of owners decide to do that, it chokes off the supply of income to associations, so associations are even less able to provide services. Associations have no other source of income but from co-owners.”
“This is not a landlord-tenant situation,” said Mr. Perl. “This is a situation where there are multiple co-owners, and each one is responsible not only to the association but more importantly to each other.”
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