On January 1, 2017, the Condominium and Common Interest Community Ombudsperson Act was amended. Included in the original legislation enacting the Ombudsperson Act was a requirement for associations to adopt a unit owner complaint resolution policy. As of 2017, that must now be done no later than January 1, 2019.
Each association is required to make the written policy available to all unit owners. Associations should be proactively addressing this requirement in 2018.
Beginning in July 2020, qualified unit owners will be able to make written request to the Ombudsperson for help with resolving disputes between unit owners and associations. This provision will be available only if the legislature provides funds for the program. As a result, whether or not the Ombudsperson will actually materialize remains to be seen.
The 2017 amendment also establishes that the act will be repealed on July 1, 2022.
For details on what must be included in the written complaint resolution policy and the qualifications to make a complaint to the Ombudsperson Office, see below.
Pursuant to Public Act 99-00776, amendments were made to the Condominium and Common Interest Community Ombudsperson Act (Ombudsperson Act) on August 12, 2016. The Ombudsperson Act will now take effect on January 1, 2017.
The Ombudsperson Act establishes the Office of the Condominium and Common Interest Community Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson Act applies to all condominium associations governed by the Illinois Condominium Property Act (the Condo Act) and all common interest community associations governed by the Illinois Common Interest Community Association Act (CICAA).
Registration Requirement Repealed
Most notably, the bill repeals Section 55 of the Ombudsperson Act, which required each association to register with the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Registration is no longer a requirement under the Ombudsperson Act.
Educational and Training Services Available One Year Sooner
By July 1, 2017 (instead of July 1, 2018), the Ombudsperson Office will offer training, outreach, and educational materials, and may arrange for the offering of courses to unit owners, associations, board managers and boards directors in the following subjects: the operation and management of condominiums and common interest communities, and the Condo Act and CICAA.
Deadline Extended for Adopting a Written Policy for Resolving Owner Complaints
The deadline for associations to adopt a written policy for resolving owner complaints is now January 1, 2019 (instead of January 1, 2017). Under Section 35 of the Ombudsperson Act, each association is required to make the written policy available to all unit owners upon request. The written policy must include:
- A sample form on which a unit owner can make complaints;
- A description of the process by which complaints are to be delivered to the association;
- The association’s timeline and manner of making final determinations in response to a unit owner’s complaint; and
- Requirements that the final determination made by the association in response to a unit owner’s complaint be in writing, made within 180 days after the association received the unit owner’s original complaint, and marked clearly and conspicuously as “final.”
*Common interest community associations exempt from the CICAA are not required to have a written policy for resolving owner complaints.
Assistance with Dispute Resolution Delayed
Beginning on July 1, 2020 (instead of July 1, 2019), and subject to appropriation, qualifying unit owners may 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 Condo Act and CICAA. The Ombudsperson Office will not accept requests for resolution of disputes with community association managers, or of disputes for which there is a pending complaint in any court or administrative tribunal.
In order for a unit owner to make a complaint to the Ombudsperson Office they must meet the following qualifications:
- Owe no outstanding assessments, fees or funds to the association, unless the assessments, fees or funds are central to the dispute;
- Allege a dispute that was initiated or initially occurred within the two (2) calendar years preceding the date of the request;
- Have made a written complaint pursuant to the unit owner’s association’s complaint policy, alleging violations of the Condo Act or CICAA;
- Have received a final and adverse decision from the association with an attached copy of the association’s final adverse decision marked “final” to the request to the Ombudsperson; and
- Have filed the request within 30 days after the receipt of the association’s final adverse decision.
Please contact your attorney if you have questions or concerns about the Ombudsperson Act or the recent amendments that were made.