Understanding Condominium Bylaws and Declaration
Ask the Real Estate Lawyer: Real Estate Law Q&A
REM #LAW 738
By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Summary: A member of a condominium board seeks
Sam and Ilyce's advice on how to educate his fellow board members. Sam and Ilyce
explain that the bylaws and declaration hold the key to understanding the board's
roles, responsibilities and procedures.
Q: My condominium association is often confused about voting rights. When does
the Board of Directors vote on an issue?
(article continues below useful links)
When do you need two-thirds or unanimous approval of the unit owners? I have
a clear understanding of the bylaws, but is there an article on the subject,
so I don't have to play lawyer at every meeting?
A: If you have a clear understanding of the bylaws you’re far ahead of
most people in condominium associations. But there is one other document you
need to look at – the condominium declaration.
While the bylaws will tell you the process of electing members to the board
of directors and the duties and responsibilities of the officers of the association,
the declaration will tell you what issues require the unanimous vote by the
unit owners of the condominium association and which require a lesser number
In some states, the law that regulates condominium associations may have additional
information that will be useful in determining what the voting requirements
will be on a particular issue. In order to sell the condominium building as
a whole, for example, your state’s statute may require a unanimous vote
or a supermajority to approve the sale.
As far as the way the board of directors supervises and authorizes its voting,
things vary from association to association. Some associations will have a vote
on just about every issue and then give the president of the association the
charge to move forward on that issue.
In other associations, generally the larger ones, the president of the association
has, and takes, a larger role in managing the affairs of the association. With
all of the issues facing a large association, the president uses the powers
given to him or her by the declaration and bylaws to manage the association.
That’s in stark contrast to smaller associations where there are less
issues and the board of directors and the president work hand in hand to manage
the affairs of the association.
You can pay a visit to your local library, and read up on the process of governing
a condominium association. But in reality, your declaration and bylaws should
These documents will tell you when you need to get the vote by all of the unit
owners and will indicate what percentage of the votes are required for each
particular topic. The documents may go as far as to say that a simple majority
will be required on all votes by the unit owners unless a supermajority is required,
and should also tell you what is the definition of “supermajority”
for your association.
Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce
R. Glink’s latest book is 50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Sell Your
Home Faster and For More Money In Any Market. If you have questions for
them, write: Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022
or contact them through Ilyce’s website www.thinkglink.com