New Jersey Division of Fire Safety Adopts New Regulation Requiring Use of 10-Year Sealed Battery Smoke Alarms

Posted by on Jul 9, 2019 in DCA, Legislation, Safety

By Caroline Record, Esq., CCAL

Effective January 1, 2019, the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code, State Fire Prevention Code, was amended to require that all multiple dwellings have an approved 10-year sealed battery single station alarm installed. The proposed reason for this change is that a battery cannot then be used for another purpose, or not changed for an extended period of time, thereby reducing the number of non-working smoke alarms in a building. Thus, any existing smoke alarms that may use a 9-volt battery must be replaced with a 10-year sealed lithium battery type alarm. If the smoke detector is hard-wired, it will not have to be replaced. Likewise, any carbon monoxide detector does not need to be replaced unless it is combined with a non-hard-wired smoke detector.

After January 1, 2019, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will be citing those units which do not have the new, required alarms, during its 5-year inspections. Therefore, all unit owners must be advised that their smoke alarms must be replaced. In addition, upon the resale or rental of a unit/home after January 1 date, the new smoke alarms will be required.

For more information, please click here to read the DCA press release.

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.

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Meetings, Meetings, Meetings (Part II)

Posted by on Jun 19, 2019 in Annual Meetings, Board Meetings

By Ronald L. Perl, Esq. CCAL

How to Sort Out the Legal Requirements for the Various Types of Association Meetings

In Part I, we discussed the difference between board meetings and membership meetings. We also described the difference between business meetings of the board, workshops, and executive sessions. Now we can focus on the specific matters that are deemed confidential by New Jersey law, which can be the subject of executive sessions for the purpose of both discussion and decision making.

Statutory open meeting requirements are found in both the New Jersey Condominium Act and the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFA). PREDFA requires an association’s by-laws to include:

A requirement that all meetings of the executive board, except conference or working sessions at which no binding votes are to be taken, shall be open to attendance by all unit owners, and adequate notice of any such meeting shall be given to all unit owners in such manner as the bylaws shall prescribe; except that the executive board may exclude or restrict attendance at those meetings, or portions of meetings, dealing with (1) any matter the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy; (2) any pending or anticipated litigation or contract negotiations; (3) any matters falling within the attorney-client privilege, to the extent that confidentiality is required in order for the attorney to exercise his ethical duties as a lawyer, or (4) any matter involving the employment, promotion, discipline or dismissal of a specific officer or employee of the association.

The Condominium Act’s provision is very similar and contains the same exceptions.

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Meetings, Meetings, Meetings (Part I)

Posted by on Jun 11, 2019 in Annual Meetings, Board Meetings

By Ronald L. Perl, Esq. CCAL

How to Sort Out the Legal Requirements for the Various Types of Association Meetings

Since the early 1990s, community associations in New Jersey have been legally required to operate “in the sunshine” by virtue of amendments to the Condominium Act, the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFA), and regulations promulgated by the Department of Community Affairs. Many board members are still confused about the types of meetings that associations conduct as well as the characteristics and legal requirements of each. This blog is about the different types of meetings. In future blogs, the legal requirements for notice of meetings and proper meeting minutes will be discussed.

It is important initially to distinguish board meetings from membership meetings. Membership meetings are those meetings authorized or required by the governing documents at which the unit owners or homeowners are the decision-makers. The most obvious example of a membership meeting is the annual meeting, where the members decide who will be elected to the board of trustees/directors. Meetings where owners vote on a proposed by-law amendment or the approval of a capital improvement project are other actions taken at membership meetings. The governing documents generally specify the issues for which owner approval is necessary. In some associations, the annual meeting is the only required membership meeting, but most documents also provide for special meetings of the members to be called by the board or by petition of the members to deal with specific issues. Because meetings of the members are “open” by definition, community association open meetings laws do not address membership meetings but rather concern meetings of the governing board.

Board meetings are those at which the decision-making body is the board of directors or trustees. Just as the governing documents define those questions or decisions reserved to the members, they define the authority of the board to act as well. For example, the authority to make rules, enter into contracts, hire employees, and determine the annual assessment generally is granted to the board by the master deed (or the declaration) and by-laws.

There are three basic types of board meetings: (1) business (open) meetings; (2) work sessions; and (3) executive (closed) sessions. Each type of meeting may be “regular” (periodic and regularly scheduled) or “special” (called when there is a special need or emergency between regular meetings).

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Perl to Speak at the CAI-Pa/Del Val Conference & Expo on Thursday, May 9, 2019

Posted by on May 2, 2019 in CAI, Fair Housing, Speaking Engagements

Ronald L. Perl, Esq., CCAL, partner-in-charge of Hill Wallack’s Community Associations Practice Group, will be speaking at this year’s CAI-Pennsylvania/Delaware Valley Conference & Expo on Thursday, May 9, 2019, at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, PA.

Ron’s educational program, “Expanded Fair Housing Liability for Associations – Exposure for the Illegal Acts of Residents,” will take place from 9:45 A.M. to 10:45 A.M. The program description is as follows:

Most community association boards and managers know that the Federal Civil Rights Act prohibits housing discrimination and that the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 added handicap and familial status to the groups protected by the law. Less well-known is the fact that in 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enacted regulations which expanded the scope of community associations’ liability for housing discrimination. The regulations establish potential liability for associations based on the discriminatory actions of residents over whom the association has no direct control. This session will discuss these regulations and why associations now must be actively involved in addressing resident vs. resident discriminatory conduct.

Hill Wallack’s Community Associations Practice Group will also be exhibiting during the show, which runs from 10:45 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., so stop by to talk to our attorneys and drop your business card for a chance to win our giveaway.

For more information or to register to attend the Conference & Expo, click here.

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Updated Lien Priority Legislation for New Jersey Community Associations Becomes Law

Posted by on Apr 29, 2019 in Collections, Legislation

By Ronald L. Perl, Esq., CCAL & Jonathan H. Katz, Esq.

On April 29, 2019, Governor Murphy signed into law a package of foreclosure bills, all of which were all passed by the New Jersey Legislature on March 25, 2019. Among these new laws are provisions lawmakers promise will help owners keep their homes, shorten the time a house sits vacant, and prevent abandoned properties from becoming eyesores.

The big news for community associations, however, is that the new law expands the scope of lien priority for community associations. This new provision will create for the first time a lien priority for homeowner associations, and will provide both condominium associations and homeowner associations a six (6) month “rolling” lien priority. This means that instead of having a priority for six months of assessments once every five years, associations will have a six month priority once each year.

Prior to today, only condominiums in New Jersey were able to claim limited lien priority. As previously enacted, the lien priority statute entitled a condominium association to six (6) months of “aggregate customary assessments” following a mortgage lender’s Sheriff’s sale so long as the association has a lien recorded prior to the mortgage lender’s initiation of the foreclosure process. Put simply, even though this limited priority existed, it could only be exercised once every five years. So in most cases associations were forced to write off years of unpaid assessments, which increased the assessment burden for the paying owners and adversely affected associations’ budgets and the ability to make necessary repairs and/or capital replacements. Of course, homeowners associations were not even entitled to those six months of fees.

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In Case You Missed It – Watch the Hill Wallack/Vote HOA Now Webinar Regarding Electronic Voting in New Jersey Community Associations

Posted by on Apr 26, 2019 in Elections/Voting, Webinar

In order to help community associations understand the legalities of electronic voting as a result of the Radburn Law, Hill Wallack LLP hosted an informational webinar on this topic with Cathi Sleight from Vote HOA Now on April 24, 2019.

To view the webinar, please click here.

Thanks to our friends at Vote HOA Now for participating in this webinar. You can reach Vote HOA Now at www.votehoanow.com.

If you have any questions regarding electronic voting or any other issue regarding your association, please contact one of our Community Association Attorneys. For breaking news or updates on new blog posts, follow us on Twitter at: @njcondolaw.

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Third Circuit Determines That Association’s Sex-Segregating Swimming Schedule Violates The Fair Housing Act

Posted by on Apr 23, 2019 in Fair Housing, Legal Decisions

By Ronald L. Perl, Esq. CCAL

In a decision issued on April 22, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has determined that rules providing for sex-segregating swimming schedules (separate women-only and men-only times) violate the federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.

In 2016, the 55+ age-restricted community, A Country Place Condominium Association, in Lakewood, NJ, adopted rules for the use of its community pool, which designated certain hours when only members of a single sex were allowed to swim. This was done, according to the case, to accommodate the approximately 2/3rds population of Orthodox Jews living in the association and the Orthodox Jewish principle of modesty. This principle means that the Orthodox residents are not supposed to swim at a time when members of the opposite sex might be present. According to the decision, men’s swim time encompassed 32.5 hours per week while 33.5 hours were allocated to women’s swims. Only 25 hours were open to mixed swims, of which 13 hours were on Saturdays when Orthodox residents would not swim due to the Jewish Sabbath.

Three individuals (“plaintiffs”) who challenged these rules were found in violation and fined by the association. They filed a complaint in federal court alleging violations of the FHA and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. After discovery in the trial court, both the plaintiffs and the association filed motions for summary judgment. The District Court ruled in favor of the defendant association because it found that “the gender-segregated schedule applies to men and women equally.” The plaintiffs appealed.

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