Q: My daughter bought a townhouse and closed in May. The owners’ association provided its information just three days before the closing in a faxed document that was difficult to read and did not cover any work to be done. Now, six months later, the Homeowners Association issued a directive requiring improvements to be made to the unit in accordance with a notice sent to owners several weeks or months (March or April) before the unit was put up. on the market.
The requirement was not disclosed earlier in listing or at close. The sale price would have been very different if my daughter had known that she might have to pay for the updates. She works with the association but my question is: does she have a recourse or a recourse?
A: You do not indicate exactly what work the association has mandated. However, take a look at the Residential Real Estate Disclosure Report you should have received from the seller when signing the contract. This report covers the most common defects associated with a property and requires the seller to disclose to the buyer any known issues that may exist with the issues listed.
If the issue (s) you are writing about are covered in the report and the seller has not disclosed the defects, you may have a cause of action under 765 ILCS 77/35, the relevant Illinois law. .
Even if your issues are not covered by any of the sections of the disclosure report, sellers are required to disclose any defects of which they are aware to potential buyers. As a general rule, in order to prevail against a seller for defects discovered by the buyer after a sale, the buyer must establish that the defect existed before the sale and that the seller was aware of the defect.
Often in these lawsuits the much more difficult obstacle is establishing that the seller is aware of the defect. Considering the association’s letter sent prior to the sale informing the seller of the work requested, establishing the seller’s knowledge should not be difficult.
I would start by getting at least two cost proposals to complete the work. Then ask the lawyer who represented your daughter during her purchase or another lawyer who practices real estate litigation on a regular basis to write a letter to the seller’s lawyer (and the seller if you know where they have moved to) setting out your case and demanding that the cost of the work will be borne by the seller. It never hurts to remind the seller that there is a provision in the contract that grants attorney fees to a winning party in this type of dispute.
Frankly, I would also have a problem with the homeowners association if the paid appraisal letter produced by the association and provided to your daughter at closing made no reference to the work required. Associations usually provide a lot of useful information in these required documents and disclosure of the work to be done seems to me to be a good way to avoid this type of problem.
Q: Over time, “investors” have taken over the board of directors of my homeowners association. Last week, the council sent a letter indicating that it had received a letter of intent from an outside investor to purchase the 10 buildings that make up our condominium community.
The board told us there would be a vote because they think the offer is good. Supply may be slightly higher than the market, but not by much. We were told that a 75% vote would be required to proceed. I think the group of investors may be looking to cash in because they bought shares when the prices were much lower.
My concern is that I have put a lot of money into my unit and I like it. I don’t want to be kicked out of the unit I bought (and thought I owned… until now). It would cost much more to live elsewhere nearby. I am a senior and will be retiring at the end of this year.
The reason I am writing to you is to ask if everything I have described seems legal. I don’t believe 75% of owners will vote to sell this time around. However, I wonder if you see any legal options that would prevent me from being forced to leave now or in the future.
A: In Illinois, a condominium owner can be forced to sell their property if at least 75% of the unit owners vote in favor of selling all units to a wholesale buyer.
There are two important exceptions. First, the documents governing your co-ownership (declaration of co-ownership and bylaws) may provide to the contrary. If your governing documents require 85% approval for passage, that would control. Second, the city of Chicago recently passed a local ordinance requiring 85% approval for most bulk condo sales. I would suggest speaking to a real estate attorney who regularly practices in the area of condominium law for additional advice.
• Send your questions to attorney Tom Resnick, 910 E. Oak St., Lake in the Hills, IL 60156, by email to [email protected] or call (847) 359-8983.