Be a better neighbor. Sign up for EveryBlock to follow and discuss neighborhood news.

Sign up for free →

Added Sep 19 2017

I live in a Condo mid-rise. We have a business on the first floor. They have taken over our basement with the blessing of the board. However, they do not pay rent, nor have they signed a lease. When the condo looked at using the basement a few years ago, it was found that we could not use the basement as in doing so it would incur more than $20,000 in cost to get a COO, so we decided not to incur the cost. The business on the first floor decided to take over the basement and not pay the money for the COO (we know this because there are no rails that were needed to get the COO on the stairway). We know that they are using the basement as they have told us that they have several million dollars in inventory and there are lights on in the basement 24 X 7. We know that one year they paid rent to the association as it showed as income in the annual report, after that however they have paid no rent. The board is complicit in this violation.
Any suggestions as to how to proceed to get the business out of our basement would be appreciated.

  • Spam Alert Don't be selling your used junk up in here, okay?

    Contact, interview, then hire an attorney.

  • Jen Baron JBaron

    Agree w Spam Alert. You need a lawyer. Do NOT go calling the city and reporting anything in regards to COO. You would only open up a can of worms for yourself that could backfire horribly (and possibly lead to inspections of whole building, etc) You might try Kathleen Robson w Robson/Lopez Attorneys. 312-337-5777 or robson@robsonlopez.com. Not sure they would handle this situation but they usually handle all things real estate (as well as civil rights, etc) Several lawyers there so someone can possibly help. And always always have a lease!

  • I agree with Jen Brown. And I highly recommend Atty Kathleen Robson, robson@robsonlopez.com Office: 312-523-2166. She is counsel on my case right now. I live in Chicago's Roscoe Village, 60618

  • Jen Baron JBaron

    Newjerseygirl! What a small world you are working with Kathleen Robson! She is a fantastic lawyer as well as a good person. I hope whatever issue you have is resolved! And I'm sure it was a typo but my last name is Baron, not Brown ;)

  • Ed Gould Interested in improbving the neighborhood

    Thanks, I am retired and cannot afford an attorney. I consulted an attorney on another condo matter and he said it would cost at least $30,000. Way out of my league.

  • Jeffrey Littleton LittletonStudio.com

    Generally speaking what kind of inventory is down there?
    Wouldn't a COO allow for storage of non-perishables?

  • Jeffrey Littleton LittletonStudio.com

    Correction: not having a COO still allow for non perishable storage?

  • Ed Gould Interested in improbving the neighborhood

    It is a long story, and some of it is rumor and could be false, so I would rather not get into peoples motives. As to the equipment, I think it is a broad enough category to say musical instruments.
    What I can say from personal knowledge is that the business is growing leaps and bounds. A few years ago there was a rumor going around that they were moving their underground business to go elsewhere, that never happened, or if it did let's just say the number of UPS, FEDEX, and other trucks has only increased. That is a separate zoning issue, and I have tried to talk to the alderman's office and if I didn't know better the guy is being bribed. I had requested a tonnage limit sign for the street as the number of semis (not to this business) has been increasing to the point of being alarming. All I got from the alderman's office was other business's use the street as an alley as there is no alley, so no tonnage sign. At times there have been 4 or more trucks parked at one time and a two-way street is narrowed to one causing a Koma Kazi effect of drives taking their chance on going through the now narrowed street. Add to this the other businesses truck traffic on the street, makes it difficult to cross as a pedestrian. I have asked for an overhead blinking red light so people would stop at the stop sign (that people run every day/night).

  • Her...you know, her! Lifetime Chicagoan; new to Logan Square

    You don't have to go it alone. See if any of the other owners want to go in on the lawsuit. I would pursue that because it seems that the board is not practicing good fiduciary responsibility (which they are required to do) and you could frame it that way to your neighbors. Good luck.

  • Ed Gould Interested in improbving the neighborhood

    The problem is that most of the owners are never here (They travel) or they have deep pockets and don't care. The last time we had an uprising, the board wanted to raise the assessments 15%.

  • Jen Baron JBaron

    Ed, this is a condo association issue so you personally should not be responsible for paying a lawyer. Whom ever quoted you $30K is nuts. A lawyer for this situation should not cost you anything. I would at least call Kathleen Robson for an initial consult in the matter. I would also advise you review the Illinois condominium act. You have rights and can raise issues without the board.

  • Ed Gould Interested in improbving the neighborhood

    Yes, I know it's a condo issue. The other issue that I talked to a lawyer about is essentially the Board giving away Limited Common Element to the company on the first floor. The lawyer asked for minutes to board meetings and was ignored. He said the only way to force the issue was to go to court. They took access from one street away from the association. Plus the company has a sign on the side of the building which the IL Condo act says is LCE. There are a few more items, but you get the idea. The business on the first floor has essentially taken over the board as he owns 27 percent of the building. IOW unless you get more than that to show up at a meeting, you might get to vote him out, but we are lucky if we get more than two owners to show up.

  • d3 NOH

    You shouldn't need a lawyer to get a copy of your own condo board minutes

  • d3 NOH

    Also the limited common area would be described in the legal descriptions of units

  • Her...you know, her! Lifetime Chicagoan; new to Logan Square

    Ed, your situation is one of the reasons I would never buy a condo. Too many people do not know what it means to own one and the responsibilities that come with it. If the owners do not take that situation seriously, they will find themselves, along with the board, in big trouble. They are breaking the law, period.

  • Ed Gould Interested in improbving the neighborhood

    I know I don't need a lawyer for Condo minutes. My lawyer wanted them to provide the minutes so they couldn't say I doctored them in some way. The point of the whole minute's exercise was to *PROVE* that a vote was *NOT* held in various areas that by state law they had to have held a vote and approved by 60 or 66 (I am not sure which it is) percent of the ownership. This would be used in a court case to show that the board violated state law by giving away LCE. This is a complicated matter and for all intents and purposes I have been guided through this whole matter by a friend who has passed away and I am no longer able to get his advice in condo matters. He was familiar with the issue(s) and knew the board was blowing smoke in my face. He was the one that suggested to get a lawyer involved. The lawyer is a top rated lawyer when it comes to Condo/Property issues.

  • Ed Gould Interested in improbving the neighborhood

    d3: said "Also the limited common area would be described in the legal descriptions of units"

    I agree but if you have never seen our condo decs. Things that are not marked as LCE are LCE. Another big example is that there is *NO* discussion in the docs about what the basement is. Everybody who has read the IL condo act knows for example if the outer walls of the building are not described in the condo decs are LCE. It's a long torturous way about how the building was converted from furniture warehouse to condo's and the conniving and questionable things that went on during that time. I only know parts because a former president of the association told me about the mess.
    The lawyer looked at the Condo Decs and shook his head and said that this was not going to be easy.

  • Ed Gould Interested in improbving the neighborhood

    "Ed, your situation is one of the reasons I would never buy a condo."
    I think its different from condo to condo so I don't think it's wise to generalize.
    I have seen *some* that have run themselves into the ground and I have seen others that look great and the balance sheets are excellent. I think in our situation it is a matter of the president is the final word and no one goes against him (except me).
    On the whole, he does a good job it's the legal items he turns a blind eye to. EXAMPLE: 2 years ago (it goes back longer) the sidewalk in front of the building shifted. It left a gap of two inches between the sidewalk and the building. We had people tripping on it left and right. He said it was a city issue, I suggested that meanwhile, we should put a patch over the tripping part and get the city to do its thing. He refused to and I reminded him that it's our fault if someone trips and the association would get sued. He yawned and said so what. We finally got the city out to look at it and they said yes you need a new sidewalk, they told him that you can only apply between midnight and 3 AM on January 1st. The next Jan I applied and they sent out people to look at it and apparently gave us an estimate of $23K would be our share. They stumbled around and missed the June 15th deadline. They should have had it in the budget, of course, they did not. So now we are going to have to wait another year to apply (again). Someone in the building went out and bought so filler so people wouldn't trip. The President said it was a city issue, not ours so if some tripped they could sue the city. That is what kind of President we have.

  • Ed H. 5 year Lakeview resident

    How many units are in the building? Is there any zoning laws they are breaking? Is there anything in the bylaws against running a business? Do you know if you building has insurance that covers the board members against lawsuits? You could probably go to a legal clinic and get them to help you file a lawsuit. Or maybe read up on it yourself. It would cost much to file, and would force action on the boards part. Although, it would create some tension. If you did win, though, It would create some good will on your part when it comes to elections.

  • Ed Gould Interested in improbving the neighborhood

    There are around 43 units.
    I am not an expert in zoning codes; I wish I knew someone that is as I know a business is violating at least one city code might be more (but can't cite them).
    Insurance, yes they have it.
    I am going to talk with a neighbor, Not sure how he will react to getting a lawyer. I suspect he will try and get them (the board) to change their ways (they won't). They laughed at my lawyer trying to get condo minutes. My lawyer told me that the only way to hit them is with a lawsuit and plenty of discovery motions. He said it was going to get messy as the board is covering up various items.This is where the 30K was going to cost us to fill a suit and likely a trial.

  • Jeffrey Littleton LittletonStudio.com

    Its not a zoning issue.

  • d3 NOH

    As a condo owner in that building isn't it in your interest to have a viable business at the retail level?

  • Ed Gould Interested in improbving the neighborhood

    As a condo owner in that building isn't it in your interest to have a viable business at the retail level?
    -----------------------------------------------
    I agree if they are paying their fair share.The business owner is using more than their unit size says in the Condo Docs.

    It is no difference say if I have five pianos out in the hallway. That is a common element, and I have no right to have those pianos in the common element. Just like he is not to use space that is not part of his unit. The IL condo law says Limited Common Element *CAN NOT be given, sold or otherwise used, except when the condo has a vote for it and that the vote is 60 percent". That is what the IL condo act says. I am sure you can google it and read it yourself.

  • Ed Gould Interested in improbving the neighborhood

    Its not a zoning issue.

    Their use of LCE, I agree.

    Their created loading dock however is. I did not bring this up as a condo issue, it is a zoning issue. This is where it gets tricky with zoning. Like I said I am no expert in zoning issues. But it would seem to me that a loading dock in a residential area is probably wrong.

8 neighbors are subscribed to this conversation.

Posted to Lake View

This was posted to Lake View

What's the news in your neighborhood? Search for your ZIP code:

e.g. 60615