On April 29, 2019, Governor Murphy signed into law a package of foreclosure bills designed to help owners keep their homes, shorten the time a house sits vacant, and prevent abandoned properties from becoming eyesores. Of specific interest to community associations was the expansion of the statutory “lien priority.” The new law now provides that both condominium and homeowner associations are eligible to receive a six-month “rolling” lien priority. This means that instead of having a priority for only six months of assessments, an association may be eligible to claim a six-month priority for every year that it has a recorded lien (up to five years).
The Failure of a Condominium Association, Cooperative, or Mutual Housing Corporation to Apply for an Exemption to the DCA’s Housing Inspection Obligation Can Be Costly
The Bureau of Housing Inspection, a division of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), is charged with administering the New Jersey Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law. This law requires the Bureau to conduct periodic inspections of these properties in order to ensure that multiple family buildings of four (4) or more dwelling units are properly maintained and do not pose a threat to the health and safety of its residents. Condominium associations, cooperatives, and mutual housing corporations are considered multiple family dwellings for purposes of this law and these inspections.
- Make sure you’re prepared for snow and ice even if the Association takes care of your walks and/or driveway. They can’t be there every minute to treat the ice, so to protect yourself from liability, supplement the ice melt treatments. If you are responsible as a homeowner for your driveways and walks, take care to keep them free from snow and ice as best you can.
- Schedule your chimney and flue inspections to keep fireplaces safe. Many associations have rules requiring periodic inspections. They are important to avoid fires so take this precaution whether required by your association or not. Add dryer vents as well because they are a real hazard during every season.
- Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors work. This is required by code, but is especially important during the cold weather when heating systems and fireplaces are used.
- If your association allows generators, make sure they are set up and vented properly to avoid the effects of carbon monoxide.
- If you require medical care or treatment, make arrangements to deal with medical emergencies. Make sure you association or a neighbor has emergency contact information just in case.
- Similarly, if you are a snowbird and will not be around in the winter, make sure you winterize your home to prevent unexpected damage or legal liability for frozen/broken pipes.
- Be vigilant—ice damming occurs in the winter months and the resulting leaks are sometimes undetected until there is serious damage. Be aware of what is going on with your home—make regular observations to catch problems while still small and manageable.
By: Gregg Shivers
If you are considering buying a deed restricted property (one that is in a condominium or homeowner’s association) you should do some investigation before you sign a contract. The seller has a legal right to access all the books and records of the association so they or the realtor can get these documents for you. If the association has a website, many of the documents are posted there as well.
Here are a few tips.
Hill Wallack Expands Community Associations Group with Three Leading Attorneys and New Cherry Hill Office
Hill Wallack LLP announced today the growth of its Community Associations Practice Group, adding three leading attorneys, Gregg A. Shivers, George C. Greatrex Jr., and Jennifer A. Webb. This group provides counsel to condominium and homeowner associations, cooperatives, and real estate developers, working closely with association governing boards and committees, management companies, and other professionals to ensure proper and cost-effective operations throughout New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.
Located at Cherry Hill Plaza, this new team and location have expanded the firm’s presence in southern New Jersey, joining offices in Red Bank, New York, Princeton, and Cedar Knolls. Ronald L. Perl, Partner-in-Charge of the Community Associations Practice Group, stated, “This is a very exciting opportunity for all of us, as we will easily be the state’s most geographically dominant community association practice. In my view, we are leaders in terms of talent as well, and now with George and Gregg aboard, we will seek to continue our group’s expansion throughout the entire state.”
A new law amending New Jersey’s Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law changes the schedules for inspections of multiple dwellings throughout the state. While a primary purpose of the law is to allow for flexible inspections for substandard apartment buildings, the law also encompasses multiple dwellings including condominiums and cooperatives. This flexibility is potentially good news for some multiple dwelling owners and perhaps not as positive news for others.
Prior to the amendment, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Bureau of Housing Inspection inspected multiple dwellings in the state every five (5) years. Depending on the findings from the initial inspection, there would either be a follow-up inspection or there would not be another inspection until the next 5-year cycle. Under the new law, there is now a “flexible” inspection process that will potentially lessen the frequency of multiple dwelling inspections. The law goes into effect immediately and is applicable to the next new inspection cycle for each multiple dwelling.
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has proposed new regulations to implement the “Radburn Act,” which was enacted in 2017 to address procedures for board elections and voting participation rights in community associations. The proposed regulations would have a significant impact on the way associations conduct elections and tally votes as well as other issues, including board decision making on confidential matters.
Hill Wallack submitted a comment letter on behalf of its clients, with suggested changes to a number of proposed regulations. Click here to view a copy of Hill Wallack’s comments. Comments received by the DCA will be considered by that agency and it is anticipated that the final rules will be adopted and published in the coming weeks.
To read all of the proposed regulations, click here.
For more information on this or any other issue concerning your community association, please contact one of our Community Associations attorneys. For breaking news or updates on new blog posts, follow us on Twitter at: @njcondolaw, on Facebook at: njcondolaw, and on LinkedIn at: Hill Wallack Community Association Attorneys.