Condominiums and the Illinois Mechanics Lien Act
Condominium associations have reason to be concerned about
mechanics liens. After all, condominium declarations usually
contain extensive provisions designed to establish certain baseline
conduct which should, ideally, preserve the stability and desirability
of all the condo units, by ensuring that no one condo owner causes
the property to be devalued. When a mechanics lien is filed against
even one unit in the condominium, the entire building can suffer
Nobody really wins in a foreclosure action. Inevitably, contractors
would prefer simply to be paid the amount they believe to be
owed without having to file a mechanics lien and foreclose on
it. The owner is either dissatisfied with the work, has run out
of money, or both, and now has to defend a foreclosure action.
And the condominium association, no matter which side they may
find more persuasive, suffers a loss of stability in the community,
and the inevitable uncertainty which comes with the possible
involuntary change of ownership. A mechanics lien filed against
multiple units or the entire building can threaten the peaceful
enjoyment of the property that every owner wants, in addition
to the costs in money, time, and energy that come with defending
a lawsuit when a construction project goes bad.
For these reasons, and many others, condominium associations
in Illinois should be aware of the legal requirements and procedures
established by the Illinois Mechanics Lien Act. As with the other
parties involved in the construction process, condominium associations
can proactively assist the ownership, individually and
collectively, in guiding construction projects to successful
ends. These activities not only protect neighboring unit owners
from irresponsible contractors, but ultimately also protect other
unit owners (and contractors) from irresponsible unit owners.
After all, the condominium association has an interest in preventing
legal battles, no matter who starts them or why.
As described in greater detail elswhere on this site's LEARN
pages, the structure of rights and obligations created by the
part of Illinois law called the Mechanics Lien Act rewards those
who understand and follow the procedures it establishes. Although
they can seem obscure, the result of following the rules from
the beginning gives all parties involved in the construction
process the information they need to build a cooperative effort
toward successful completion. The substance of many construction
disputes could have been helped or even prevented entirely by
following the procedures outlined in the Illinois Mechanics Lien
To learn more, consider the following two options:
Take advantage of the free presentation your condo board can
receive from an attorney with experience in the mechanics lien
field. My mission is to educate the public in Illinois about
mechanics liens, in order to use the law to prevent disputes
before they happen. If you would like to schedule a free presentation
to your condo board, please CONTACT
And, Click Here to Learn More About the
Illinois Mechanics Lien Act
The following is a portion of the Illinois Condominium Act
which discusses how Mechanics Liens may affect property which
is subject to a condominium declaration.
(765 ILCS 605/9.1)
Sec. 9.1. (a) Other liens; attachment and satisfaction. Subsequent
to the recording of the declaration, no liens of any nature shall
be created or arise against any portion of the property except
against an individual unit or units. No labor performed or materials
furnished with the consent or at the request of a particular
unit owner shall be the basis for the filing of a mechanics'
lien claim against any other unit. If the performance of the
labor or furnishing of the materials is expressly authorized
by the board of managers, each unit owner shall be deemed to
have expressly authorized it and consented thereto, and shall
be liable for the payment of his unit's proportionate share of
any due and payable indebtedness as set forth in this Section.
Each mortgage and other lien, including mechanics liens, securing
a debt incurred in the development of the land submitted to the
provisions of this Act for the sale of units shall be subject
to the provisions of this Act, subsequent to the conveyance of
a unit to the purchaser.
In the event any lien exists against 2 or more units and the
indebtedness secured by such lien is due and payable, the unit
owner of any such unit so affected may remove such unit and the
undivided interest in the common elements appertaining thereto
from such lien by payment of the proportional amount of such
indebtedness attributable to such unit. In the event such lien
exists against the units or against the property, the amount
of such proportional payment shall be computed on the basis of
the percentages set forth in the declaration. Upon payment as
herein provided, it is the duty of the encumbrancer to execute
and deliver to the unit owner a release of such unit and the
undivided interest in the common elements appertaining thereto
from such lien, except that such proportional payment and release
shall not prevent the encumbrancer from proceeding to enforce
his rights against any unit or interest with respect to which
such lien has not been so paid or released.
The owner of a unit shall not be liable for any claims, damages,
or judgments, including but not limited to State or local government
fees or fines, entered as a result of any action or inaction
of the board of managers of the association other than for mechanics'
liens as set forth in this Section. Unit owners other than the
developer, members of the board of managers other than the developer
or developer representatives, and the association of unit owners
shall not be liable for any claims, damages, or judgments, including
but not limited to State or local government fees or fines, entered
as result of any action or inaction of the developer other than
for mechanics' liens as set forth in this Section. Each unit
owner's liability for any judgment entered against the board
of managers or the association, if any, shall be limited to his
proportionate share of the indebtedness as set forth in this
Section, whether collection is sought through assessment or otherwise.
A unit owner shall be liable for any claim, damage or judgment
entered as a result of the use or operation of his unit, or caused
by his own conduct. Before conveying a unit, a developer shall
record and furnish purchaser releases of all liens affecting
that unit and its common element interest which the purchaser
does not expressly agree to take subject to or assume, and the
developer shall provide a surety bond or substitute collateral
for or insurance against liens for which a release is not provided.
After conveyance of such unit, no mechanics lien shall be created
against such unit or its common element interest by reason of
any subsequent contract by the developer to improve or make additions
to the property.
Each mortgagee or other lienholder of the unit of a common interest
community or of a unit subject to the Condominium Property Act
shall provide an address to the unit owners' association at the
time the lien or mortgage is recorded at which address such unit
owners' association shall send notice to such mortgagee or lienholder
of any eminent domain proceeding to which the association thereafter
becomes a party. If the mortgagee or lienholder has not provided
an address for notice purposes to the association, then such
notice shall be sent to all mortgagees or lienholders which are
named insureds on the master policy of insurance which exists
or may exist on the common interest community or unit subject
to the Condominium Property Act.
(b) Board of Managers' standing and capacity.
The board of managers shall have standing and capacity to act
in a representative capacity in relation to matters involving
the common elements or more than one unit, on behalf of the unit
owners, as their interests may appear.
(Source: P.A. 91-616, eff. 8-19-99.)