What an Illinois Condo Needs to Know About Easements for Cable and Internet in Accordance with Sections 14.3 and 18.4(o) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act
Having quality access to cable television and internet has become nearly an absolute right to many homeowners, and the need for this service (especially the internet) was heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic when many more people started to work from home. Along those lines, a condominium association may be approached to provide an easement in favor of a cable television and/or internet provider in order to provide better (or initial) access to certain services within the condominium. If a decision is to be made to grant such an easement, the board must be cognizant of Sections 14.3 and 18.4(o) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act, which includes a process by which must be followed in most situations before such a grant can be made.
One of the more common issues that arise for most board members is determining what authority the board has to make decisions, pass rules and regulations and enter into agreements, and what, if any, decisions must be made by the unit owners as a whole. Section 18.4 of the Condominium Property Act includes a list of 19 non-inclusive powers and duties. One of the powers granted to a board relates to cable and high speed internet. Under Section 18.4(o) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act, the Board is granted the general power:
To record the granting of an easement for the laying of cable television or high speed Internet cable where authorized by the unit owners under the provisions of Section 14.3; to obtain, if available and determined by the board to be in the best interests of the association, cable television or bulk high speed Internet service for all of the units of the condominium on a bulk identical service and equal cost per unit basis; and to assess and recover the expense as a common expense and, if so determined by the board, to assess each and every unit on the same equal cost per unit basis.
This provision, along with Section 14.3, was added to the Condominium Property Act effective January 1, 2014. Breaking down Section 18.4(o), it provides that the board may obtain cable television or bulk high speed internet service for all the units on an equal cost per unit basis and even assess this as a common expense. Condominium associations should also be cognizant of federal rules regarding bulk cable and internet service agreements and recent rulings from the Federal Communications Commission that preclude many “exclusive” revenue sharing agreements between providers and “multi-tenant” buildings, including condominiums (https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-acts-increase-broadband-competition-apartment-buildings-0). As for easements, however, it clearly states that the provisions of Section 14.3 apply, and the unit owners must “authorize” the granting of the easement.
Therefore, if an easement is to be granted, the provisions of Section 14.3 will control. Under that section:
- If there is a provision in the condominium declaration or bylaws that provides for a procedure for the unit owners to vote on granting of such an easement, that provision controls;
- If there is no provision in the condominium declaration or bylaws that provides for a procedure for the unit owners to vote on granting of such an easement, then a meeting must be called for the unit owners to vote, and more than 50% of those unit owners (assuming that a quorum is reached) must vote in favor of the easement; and
- Any proposed easement must be in accordance with the terms and conditions of the local ordinance providing for cable television and high-speed internet for the municipality where the condominium is located.
If you have specific questions about cable and internet agreements and easements in an Illinois association, retention of experienced counsel is suggested for multiple reasons, including that the state of the federal law on what is allowable has changed and because property agreements (such as easements) can sometimes include legal provisions that should not be agreed-to by an association. The experienced attorneys at Hirzel Law can help the board follow the procedures to make sure that the Condominium Property Act (and Federal law) are not violated.
The attorneys of Hirzel Law, PLC focus their practice on condominium and homeowners association law in addition to real estate law. Our attorneys have extensive litigation and trial experience in state and federal courts involving commercial litigation issues and real estate matters. We stand by our clients, offering quality legal representation and promptly responding to our clients’ needs. Contact Hirzel Law online or call 312-552-7669 to learn how our Illinois attorneys can help.