Are owners baked goods a liability issue?


Q: From time to time, the owners of our building bake things like bread, cookies, and cakes, and leave them on a table in our lobby for other residents to enjoy. The board is concerned about the association’s exposure to liability if we allow it. Should the board be worried?

A: Many charities host events where residents provide home-cooked meals. However, I assume the situation you describe involves food being left “anonymously” and/or “unattended”.

The association is exposed to liability for bodily injury in this scenario (eg, third party tampering, accidental food poisoning) if such damage is due to the negligence of the association. Allowing residents to leave food behind anonymously and unattended could be considered negligence. I’m not suggesting that.

The council could consider hosting some sort of social event among residents where residents can share their home-cooked meals with other residents.

Q: I sit on the board of directors of a syndicate of co-ownership. We tried unsuccessfully to modify the statement to limit the number of units that can be rented. The board discussed a concept requiring landlords to own a unit for a year before they can rent that unit. Is it valid?

A: For various reasons, landlords may be reluctant to approve an amendment that limits the number of units that can be rented. However, these same landlords can agree to a restriction that requires a landlord to own a unit for a certain period of time before they can rent that unit.


Some associations require the landlord to both own and occupy the unit for a certain period of time before it can be rented out. The purpose of the provision is to deter the purchase of units for rental purposes only. Such an amendment should withstand judicial scrutiny.

Q: Does the Condominium Act outline the insurance unit owners must carry?

A: Insurance is governed by Section 12 of the Illinois Condominium Law. The Act emphasizes the types of insurance that the association must maintain. The insurance that a condominium corporation must maintain includes property insurance, general liability insurance, embezzlement bonding and coverage for directors and officers.

The statement may also require the association to maintain such other insurance, including workers’ compensation, employment practices, environmental hazards, and equipment breakdown, as the board deems appropriate to protect association, unit owners and officers, directors or agents of the association.

However, the law does not require owners to take out insurance. That said, Section 12(h) of the Act provides that the Board of Directors may, under the Declaration and By-Laws or Rule, require Unit Owners to maintain liability insurance. personal and compensatory (but not consequential) damages caused to another unit by the negligence of the owner or its guests, residents and guests, or independently of any negligence arising from the unit.

The personal liability of a co-owner or member of the association shall cover the deductible of the owner whose unit has been damaged, any damage not covered by the insurance required by this provision, as well as the decoration, the painting, repair or replacement of wall and floor coverings, trim, appliances, equipment and other furniture.

If an association intends to require such insurance, it should seek the advice of its insurance advisor as to the minimum amounts of such insurance that owners should carry.

However, owners should discuss with their own insurance advisor the types and amounts of insurance they should carry.

Note that the Common Interest Community Associations Act does not include any requirement for insurance to be maintained by the association or owners.

• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in suburban Chicago. Send your questions for the column to him at [email protected] The firm provides legal services to condominiums, townhouses, homeowners associations and housing cooperatives. This section is not a substitute for consulting legal counsel.


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