In an effort to educate condominium associations, unit owners and common interest groups, while still accounting for the complex responsibilities that accompany those roles, the Illinois General Assembly created the Condominium and Common Interest Community Ombudsperson Act. Effective July 1, 2016, the Ombudsperson Act will provide effective education to help prevent or reduce the severity of problems that can arise within a condo or common interest community.
Creation of New Office to Provide Training and Education
In conjunction with the passing of the Ombudsperson Act, the Illinois General Assembly also created the Office of the Condominium and Common Interest Community Ombudsperson in the Division of Professional Regulation under Section 20 of the Ombudsperson Act. Pursuant to Section 25 of the Ombudsperson Act, this office will provide training and educational materials and courses to condo unit owners, condo associations and boards of managers in subjects relevant to the operation and management of condo property as well as the rights and duties of unit owners and unit owners’ associations.
Written Policy for Resolution of Unit Owner Complaints
Section 35 of the Ombudsperson Act will require all condo associations to adopt a written policy for resolving complaints made by unit owners by the start of 2017. The policy will be required to include (1) a sample form on which a unit owner may make a complaint to the association; (2) a description of the process for delivering complaints to the association; (3) the association’s timeline and manner of making a final determination in response to the complaint; and (4) a requirement that a final determination be made by the association in response to the complaint.
Requests for Assistance from the Ombudsperson
Another unique option provided by the Ombudsperson Act, albeit not until July 1, 2019, is that certain qualifying unit owners will be able to make a written request to the Ombudsperson for assistance in resolving a dispute between a unit owner and an association that involves a violation of the Condominium Property Act or the Common Interest Community Property Act.
In order for a unit owner to be eligible for this assistance, he or she must (1) owe no outstanding assessments or fees; (2) allege a dispute that was initiated or initially occurred within the past two calendar years; (3) have made a written complaint pursuant to the association’s complaint policy; (4) have received a final and adverse decision from the association; and (5) have filed the request within 30 days after the receipt of the association’s final adverse decision.
Registration with the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Also beginning July 1, 2016, every association will be required to register with the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. If an association fails to register, the department may impose a late charge or late fee against the association.
Although the Ombudsperson Act will not go into effect until July 1, 2016, it is imperative that condominium associations be mindful of the new requirements it will impose in order to ensure a smooth transition and full compliance.