Dirty Laundry Bill Becomes Law

  • Posted: August 27, 2017

laundryNEWS FLASH: Late Friday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed HB0189 into law. Otherwise known in the condo industry as the “Dirty Laundry Bill,” it’s now officially Public Act 100-0292. Not only does it significantly change the Illinois Condominium Property Act, it promises to significantly change life and the prospects of our investments here at 111 East Chestnut.

On May 29 of this year, HB0189 passed both Houses of the General Assembly with overwhelming support from both sides of the isle. Among its provisions, most notably it significantly changes Section 19 of the Condo Act. Why so important? Up until now, Sec. 19 has been a mainstay of “bully boards.” It’s empowered unfettered control by helping them play and sustain “hide the ball.”

You’ve surely seen it or have been taken at least once. Traditionally appearing along the midway at a carnival, a “dealer” will set up a card table on which three cups are placed face-down. A ball is put under one so as the player (read dupe) can see it. Then the cups are shuffled by the dealer while he invites players to bet which cup contains the ball. In practice, it’s about sleight-of-hand. Billed as a fair game of chance, in reality, it rises to a perverse entertainment. YOU ALWAYS LOSE.

Bottom line: A variation of this game has been essential to how some unscrupulous condo management companies and associated law firms whistle on their way to the bank and back unchecked… of course, with YOUR money!

Well, that dark era is finally over. By ensuring full disclose and transparency, and by promising to distribute information equally, this law decentralizes power and facilitates democracy. No more condo Kim Jong-Ils.

Changes in the new law include: The Association must now provide Association members’ phone numbers and email addresses. And the types of files one might request is greatly expanded, e.g. books and records including but not limited to itemized and detailed records of ALL receipts and expenditures for the association’s current and 10 immediately preceding fiscal years. That’s just about everything.

Exceptions include: Documents relating to employment, discipline or dismissal of association employees; documents relating to lawsuits pending or threatened against or on behalf of the association or its board; documents relating to common expenses or other charges owed by other members; and documents provided to an association in connection with the lease, sale, or other transfer of a unit other than owned by the person requesting. Sans that, the file cabinets are all yours.

Most importantly, a requesting owner will no longer need to provide the amorphous hide-the-ball association-lawyer-determined “proper purpose.” Now you need only ask.

Lastly, they’ve got 10 business days to produce and the law includes the threat of attorney’s fees for non-compliance. If the Association insists on hide-the-ball (as some habits are hard to break), you can take them to court, and they will have to pay your attorney’s fees.

Some predictions: Property manager Sara Rudnik will become this site’s most prolific contributor. To avoid embarrassment, Milazzo & Friends will soon exit stage left, i.e. full disclosure is just not their M.O. The Association’s insurance rates will go up. Sudler will insist on increased staff. There will likely be increased tension between the management company and board as they are just not going to stick their necks out. And, especially for 111 East Chestnut Condominiums, with full disclosure property values are likely to take a hit in the short run.

Overall, Friday was not a good day for condo milazzos and the Illinois condo cartel (otherwise known as CAI).

On a good note, this change should minimize the rush to lawsuits, as smart investors and an educated ownership are more likely to cooperate. Per Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ 1913 maxim, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

We can also expect long term that our politics will be more equitable. Our heretofore marginalized owners will again have a seat at the table. Out are dishonest oligarchies. In is the hope of popular democracies.

The law goes into effect January 1. Jan. 2 expect a rush of requests.

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EDITORIAL CALENDAR NOTE: Coming up, Renown 111 Real Estate Farmer, Richard “Price Reduced” Evans bails. Shades of the recent and painful Vince Scott departure, it’s now eight months and counting.

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