What To Do In The Event Of An Emergency?

Quick! Your condo neighbor accidentally set the microwave timer for two hours instead of two minutes, and now there is a fire in your building. What do you do? Although it is impossible to prepare for every unexpected emergency, it is important to have some sort of plan. We highly encourage everyone to take a few minutes to come up with their personal emergency plan. To help with the process, we’ve put together some tips.

Talk to your management company about the building’s safety plan. Learn about the safety features of the building – fire alarms, voice communication and evacuation procedures.

  • Know all the exits from your floor, in case the nearest one is blocked.
  • If you discover a fire, pull the nearest alarm lever to activate the fire alarm system.
  • Call 911, then notify the management company.
  • Keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher in your unit.
  • Be aware of your unit’s key shut-off valves and safety features.
  • Never put yourself in danger.

Follow these simple procedures and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that in the event of a disaster, you are as prepared as possible

When Can I Plant Flowers?

For Midwest gardeners, early spring teases us with warm days when we begin to think about planting our flower pots or gardens, only to be crushed the next day when cold weather and snow returns. On warm days, retailers put out their displays of annuals for sale, but the risk of frost deters many from actually planting flowers. While the average last frost date in the Chicago area is May 15, there are many types of annuals you can plant in April and early May that will survive a frost (marigolds, daisies, violets, pansies and many more!) Early spring is also a great time to plant shrubs and trees, before warmer weather sets in. For a handy month-by-month gardening checklist, visit the Chicago Botanic Garden’s website by clicking here.

What are Limited Common Elements and who is responsible for their maintenance?

Definition from the Illinois Condo Act:

“Limited Common Elements means a portion of the common elements so designated in the declaration as being reserved for the use of a certain unit or units to the exclusion of other units, including but not limited to balconies, terraces, patios and parking spaces or facilities.” Your association’s Declaration should include a description of the common elements and the Plat of Survey should indicate which portions of the common elements are limited.

Maintenance and repairs of the limited common elements are generally arranged for by the Board; costs for such repairs or maintenance can be assessed to those units to which the limited common elements are assigned.

Since limited common elements are still common elements, your Board has the authority to enact rules regarding the appearance and use of the limited common elements.

What plumbing repairs am I responsible for in my unit?

Generally speaking, owners are responsible for plumbing fixtures and components located within the unit and any portion of a pipe that serves only their unit. For example, a pipe located behind a wall connecting the main supply or drain line to your unit would be serving only your unit. Occasionally pipes may serve two units, in which case it is considered a limited common element. Review your governing documents for details about pipes and responsibility for maintenance and repair.

Residents often believe that many plumbing related problems is a building issue, however that is not always the case. It is important for owners to know the basics about the plumbing within their unit to understand what they are responsible to maintain and repair. Always know where your shut-off valves are located for your main water supply and for your fixtures and appliances. In an emergency, shutting off the water can prevent significant damage.

Is a unit owner responsible for repairs within his/her unit if the damage was caused by a common element, such as a roof leak?

Unfortunately there is no absolute “right” answer to this question, but generally speaking, yes, the unit owner is responsible for repairs to their unit and personal property caused by a roof leak or other common element failure. The two most important things an owner in this situation needs to do are to review the Association’s governing documents, and notify their insurance carrier.

Some governing documents will specifically address this issue and assign responsibility to the Association, though don’t get your hopes up, most governing documents remain vague. The governing documents and plat of survey will also define what inside the unit may be considered a common element (certain areas of drywall, structural components, pipes) which would be the Association’s responsibility to repair.

When contacting your insurance agent, they will probably review the governing documents and collect information about what caused the loss (negligence, or simply a roof leak) in order to determine if they should subrogate the claim and seek relief from the Association or its insurance carrier. But remember, that decision is up to your insurance company, it is important that you file a claim and let them handle the matter.

Finally, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your community association manager, but keep in mind that being an educated and informed homeowner will help to quickly resolve almost any problem you encounter in a homeowner association.