If you recall, back in May of 2014 we reported that with barely a wink-wink-nod-nod certain insiders here took common element property and made it their own. However, last week the Board put an end to the practice announcing the Land Rush over. And now comes the great reckoning. Right? One would think. But so far the foxes guarding the coop, conspicuous in their fresh feather beards, remain mum. Imagine.
Here’s the deal: So you bought a place for X, only to find out years later that you actually only own Y, i.e. less than that for which you had paid. But bottom line: you’re still paying taxes and assessments based on what you were sold. It’s a wound that’s both fresh and perpetual. Let alone our hefty monthly assessments being apparently incorrect, the Second Installment for Property Taxes was due August 3. If you paid it, YOU PAID TOO MUCH!
As to the foxes, a few Board members and their friends quietly took that nice little perk on you. Insult to injury, now they’re telling the Association attorneys (who you’ll end up paying dearly for too), to rationalize and defend their theft. In a sentence, those who are supposed to have your back, have surreptitiously shtuped ya.
Hmmmmmmaybe not. The light here might provide a disincentive and a little hope. This last week a related derivative demand was served on the Board. Though it’s near impossible to get the fox to cough up that chicken, the demand has got to make ‘em puke. Apparently, this type of situation is well resolved in Illinois, at least so says the Board ironically. Ya can’t make this stuff up.
By way of background, as a part of the last Board Meeting July 30, the Board was provided written questions. Among them was: “Per the board’s Meeting Minutes July 21, 2011, the board president was refunded $8,500 on his contract with the Association for his 51A buildout into the common area. The board voted that reimbursement was to be temporary and predicated on the total amount to be reassessed once a ‘policy’ had been established. Has that policy been established? When? Is that reflected in the Meeting Minutes of the board?” And in a written statement the Board responded: “Recent case law — Picerno v. 1400 Museum Park — effectively prohibits future hallway revisions like this in our building.” The Board added that “No homeowner has ever paid any fee whatsoever for the revision you reference.” As to policy, “This subject is not on a future meeting agenda.”
Okay, so what about the units that built out into the corridor, i.e. 49A , 49K, 50A, 50K, 51A, 51K, 52A, 54A, 54K, 55K, 56A and 57A? Keep in mind regarding policy, among those unit owners who’ve benefited are our current Board President Anthony Milazzo, our Treasurer Jane Santogrossi, and the Head of our Rules Committee Mel Thillens. Relying on the Board’s own opinion and the appellate case the Board cites, it appears that it all boils down to sections 4(e) of the Condominium Property Act and Paragraph 7 of our Condo Declaration. Here specifically:
765 ILCS 605/4(e): The percentage of ownership interest in the common elements allocated to each unit. Such percentages shall be computed by taking as a basis the value of each unit in relation to the value of the property as a whole, and having once been determined and set forth as herein provided, such percentages shall remain constant unless otherwise provided in this Act or thereafter changed by agreement of all unit owners.
111 Declaration Paragraph 7: Each Unit Owner shall be entitled to the percentage of ownership in the Common Elements allocated to the respective Unit owned by such Unit Owner, as set forth in the schedule attached hereto as Exhibit B and by this reference made a part hereof, as though fully set forth herein, as Exhibit B may be amended from time to time. The percentages of ownership interest set forth in Exhibit B have been computed and determined in accordance with the Act, and shall remain constant unless hereafter changed by written consent of all Unit Owners. Said ownership interest in the Common Elements shall be an undivided interest, and the Common Elements shall be owned by the Unit Owners as tenants in common in accordance with their respective percentages of ownership.
Do you remember agreeing to these percentages effectively being changed? Of course not, because it never happened.
That said, it seems the Board has only two options: 1) Rework the ownership percentages on the approval of 100 percent of the ownership, or 2) Take back the property. As it stands, per the derivative demand: “The taking of common element has unjustly burdened, and continues to burden, the non-buildout owners with regard to their condo assessments and especially their property taxes.”
THE DEMAND FOR JUST RELIEF
The derivative demand letter insisted the Board do the following:
A. Reconfigure and reassign common-element ownership percentages, or take back the encroached-upon common-element property immediately;
B. Reassess taxes and assessments for all owners based on the newly configured ownership percentages (any/all associated cost to be assigned to the encroachers);
C. Cause an accounting for the improper taxes and assessments paid by the non-buildout owners for the time the buildout owners have exclusive held the common element property (any/all cost to be assigned to the encroachers);
D. Based on item C, assess encroachers for their ill-begotten gain;
E. Reimburse non-encroaching unit owners item D per their original ownership percentage(s).
Fair? You bet. Fait accompli? Well, to quote Ben Franklin, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But then again, good ole Ben never owned a condo at 111 East Chestnut Condominiums.
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