Can the board prohibit non-owners from attending meetings?

We are often asked how a board should handle non-owners, such as tenants, visitors and guests attending (and disrupting) board meetings. Whether or not to prohibit non-owners from attending board meetings is purely a judgment call for the board to make. Technically, pursuant to both the Illinois Condominium Property Act (“ILCPA”) and the Common Interest Community Association Act (“CICAA”), board meetings are open only to owners, and thus the board has the right to prohibit non-owners from attending.

However, keeping non-owners out is much easier said than done. Issues for the board to bear in mind are:

  • Certain non-owners may have a valid power of attorney for the owner (which is a written authorization to represent a person or act on another’s behalf), meaning the non-owner is entitled to legally represent the owner at any meeting.
  • Attempts to physically remove a person from a meeting can put individuals in danger, so avoid physical altercations at all costs. If the non-unit owner is that disruptive, it’s best to call the police.
  • The board must apply any non-owner ban uniformly, meaning it cannot prohibit a certain disruptive tenant from attending based on ownership status while simultaneously allow other (non-disruptive) tenants or non-owners to attend. This may include spouses or partners who reside in the association but are not listed on the deed.

If the board does allow non-unit owners to attend, it certainly does not need to recognize the non-owners at any time (i.e. allowing them to ask questions during any open forum session). But if the non-owners are not disruptive and simply seeking information or hoping to report back to their spouse, parents, daughter, boyfriend, etc., the prohibition may turn out to be more trouble for the board than it’s worth.

In summary, while the board has a legal basis to prohibit non-owners from attending board meetings, it should weigh the costs/benefits of trying to enforce such a ban. And, of course, if there’s ever any question, it’s best to contact the association’s attorney to discuss the issue.