Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cliff Notes, Part II

Now that I’ve been through the basics of what you should be looking for in terms of paperwork, let’s move on to more advanced methods of developer justice 101.

1. Start Writing Letters

The bar to your left has links to most local, state and federal government officials. Let them hear about your extreme displeasure with your developer. I’m sure that he or she is attempting to build or develop other properties in your ward, without your alderman’s say so it ain’t gonna happen. An unhappy alderman is one headache that a developer doesn’t want. Plus with an election cycle quickly approaching I’m confident that your alderman will listen to your concerns.

If you don’t know who your alderman is, find out---and quick. Be nice to him or her and their staff. You do not want to piss them off.

Hopefully at some point all of this effort will blossom into a full blown “damn the torpedoes” campaign to get the laws changed to protect the consumer as far as condominiums are concerned.

2. Be Nosy

The Federal Bankruptcy Clerk’s Office is a treasure trove of information. See if your developer has filed before. It’s public record you know---free and open to all who can pass through the metal detectors and have a picture ID. Be care of the reporters and camera people at the George Ryan Trial. They can be a bit testy.

Click on the link to the left for the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Choose the “chancery” drop down and the “defendant” option to see if your developer has ever been in foreclosure. Choose the “civil” drop down and the “defendant” option to see if your developer has been party to any lawsuits.

Enter the legal name of your condo association in the “civil” and “defendant” options to see if you guys are parties to any lawsuits. That’s how I found out that we had open litigation against our association.

Check the incorporation status of your developer’s business by going to the Secretary of State’s website link on the left.

Go to the city and pull all of the open violations (if any) for all of the addresses in your association.

3. Ask Uncomfortable Questions

Do you have your developer’s license?
Did you file a copy of the property report with the city?
(If I understood you correctly) Why did we have to file our own articles of incorporation with the state?
We would like to see the accounting and the assessments that you as the developer paid into our bank account.

4. Be An Even Bigger Pain In The Ass

File a fraud complaint with the Department of Consumer Services. Include as much paperwork to support your case as needed. More than likely the city will tell you that there is nothing that they can do. The laws concerning fraud with respect to condominiums has not yet been addressed and therefore isn’t on the books. But---and this is a big but---in the informal hearing your developer may be cocky enough and stupid enough to incriminate his or herself. Did I mention that the informal hearings are tape recorded?

Best of all you can get a copy of that tape and use it in any future civil litigation. Priceless, huh?

Happy hunting my new condo owning friend, I hope it all comes out in the wash. Don’t forget to apply for the refuse rebate from the city. It sounds like you kids are gonna need the cash.

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