EXTENDED LIEN PRIORITY TO EXTEND ASSOCIATION BUDGETS
A new bill, passed on April 29, 2019 (N.J.S.A. 46:8B-21), signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy, extends lien priority for condominium associations and creates similar lien priority protections for homeowner associations. For many years, the New Jersey Condominium Act has permitted the filing of liens against condominium units when assessments remain unpaid. Homeowner association, because they were not included in the Act, provided for the filing of liens in their governing documents. These liens served as the basis for foreclosure against units in serious arrears. The ability to file liens and foreclose provided a substantial benefit to the fiscal stability of community associations throughout the State. Without the ability to file liens and foreclose on them, abandoned units, units falling into serious disrepair due to owner inability to afford to pay maintenance or afford repairs, and units in which residents are otherwise judgment-proof, would substantially increase the monetary burden on those who do pay their maintenance fees, and would reduce the marketability of all Units in the community.
RESPONDING TO A LAWSUIT
Lawsuits arising from claims between landlords and tenants, or between community associations and unit owners, are unfortunately not uncommon. Whether acting as the Plaintiff or Defendant, it is important to understanding the basics of each type of suit before initiating or replying.
ONLINE SALES IN NEW JERSEY
Over the years, an increasing number of shoppers purchase products online. This reality is especially true during the holiday season. While many buyers make these purchases through large retailers or companies with offices all over the country (e.g., Amazon.com, Target.com), many people still purchase from individuals who post advertisements online. With that in mind, it is essential that consumers be aware of what obstacles they may face when buying a faulty product from an out-of-state seller.
Using Fines and Penalties Fairly in a Community
Rules and regulations are part of community association living, and as everyone knows, Rules and Regulations are useful only if enforced. Back in the early days of community association law, enforcement proceedings typically did not include the right to issue fines. Enforcement was by way of injunction. That turned out to be unreasonably expensive and impractical. To have to bring a matter to the Court over someone parking in the wrong place, for example, was unhelpful in the extreme. Fortunately, the industry learned from its mistakes and began to include the right to issue fines, as an alternative to litigation. It may be hard to explain to some people that the ability to issue fines is a money-saving mechanism that inures to the benefit of both the Unit Owner and the Association, but it’s true.
REDUCING THE CHARGE FOR ELECTRIC CARS
Fully-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are becoming more-and-more popular. At the same time, would-be drivers find themselves encountering more legal “potholes” en route to owning fuel-efficient cars. One such barrier is the fact that many community associations in New Jersey do not permit the installation of electric charging stations. However, proposed bills indicate that there may be some legal changes on the horizon.
MAINTENANCE OF COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION FIRE HYDRANTS
In some municipalities, fire hydrants are the main, if not the only, supply of water available to Fire Departments when battling fires. So why do such few people think about who is responsible to ensure that the hydrants are working properly and efficiently? The Legislature helped to resolve this question when it enacted N.J.S.A. 58:31-1, also known as the Water Quality Accountability Act (WQAA), which was made effective on October 19, 2017. With the overall goal of improving the safety, reliability and administrative oversight of water infrastructure, this law established new requirements for inspection and maintenance of fire hydrants by water purveyors.
HOW GRIFFIN ALEXANDER, P.C. CAN ASSIST IN CONDO AND HOA BOARD TRANSITIONS
A successful transition is one in which the owner-controlled board works with the developer to ensure appropriate governance, adequate financial resources, and a properly designed and constructed community before the developer steps away from the community. Starting a Condominium or Homeowners association from the ground up can be a difficult task, but you can rest assured knowing that the experienced attorneys of Griffin Alexander, P.C. can provide dedicated and thorough assistance in the transition of your Condo or Homeowners Associations’ Board from beginning to end.
DOCUMENT PREPARATION SERVICES FOR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS
The formation of a community association, whether it be a condominium or a homeowners association, can be complex. The creation of the Governing Documents is especially an essential and integral aspect during formation. The purpose of a community association’s governing documents is to provide for the legal structure and operation of the community. Normally, the documents included within are a recorded plan, Declaration or Master Deed, Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, and Rules and Regulations. Membership of the community association is automatic when one purchases property within the association and creates a binding relationship between each owner and the association. Since the governing documents establish the mechanisms for governing and funding the association’s operations, as well as define the rights and obligations of both the association and its owners, it is imperative to ensure that they are well written and all-inclusive.
CONFLICT OF INTERESTS FOR NJ COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS
New Jersey Community Associations are required by law to have in place a Board of Directors or Trustees to oversee and governs their affairs. Generally, the Board may only consist of unit owners, who are members of the Association. Most often they serve as volunteers, and without pay or compensation. Board members are chosen by nomination and election. Although membership on the Board is voluntary, these elected members are obligated to act as fiduciaries to the membership and must, therefore, endeavor to avoid conflicts of interest.
Updated Lien Priority Legislation for NJ Community Associations Becomes Law
On April 29, 2019, Governor Murphy signed new legislation that will enhance and expand the lien priority for condominium associations. It also, for the first time, gives a statutory right of the lien priority to homeowners associations. Prior to this, only condominiums in New Jersey were able to claim limited lien priority. Pursuant to the original statute, condominiums were afforded a six months of “aggregate customary assessments” following a mortgage lender’s Sheriff’s sale, so long as the association had a lien recorded prior to the mortgage lender’s initiation of the foreclosure process.