New Law Mandates Flexible DCA Inspections For Multiple Dwellings

Posted by on Aug 27, 2019 in DCA, Legislation

By Loren Rosenberg Lightman, Esq.

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.

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Client Alert: Hill Wallack Responds to the DCA’s Proposed Radburn Regulations

Posted by on Aug 9, 2019 in Board Meetings, DCA, Elections/Voting, Legislation

By Ronald L. Perl, Esq. CCAL

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.

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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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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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Practical Issues with the Radburn Nomination Process

Posted by on Apr 18, 2019 in Annual Meetings, Board Meetings, Elections/Voting, Legislation

By Ronald L. Perl, Esq. CCAL

The Radburn Law provides that New Jersey community associations must accept nominations to an association’s board of directors/trustees “as long as the nomination is made prior to the mailing of ballots or proxies to the association members[.]” It also states that the mailing cannot occur earlier than the day after the nomination deadline, if there is one, or, if no deadline was set, “the business day prior to the actual mailing.” To compound problems, Radburn requires that the notice of the election include a proxy and absentee ballot, which lists the candidates in alphabetical order.

I can only assume that the drafters of this provision did not consider that it takes time for many associations to draft these documents, then print and get them ready for mailing. Large scale associations must mail well over 1,000 sets of election notices with enclosures. In many cases, it takes more than one day to make them ready to be picked up or transported to the Post Office. So what happens three days after the nominations deadline when everything is printed, the envelopes are stuffed and addressed, and a person arrives at the association office with a self-nomination form? According to Radburn, it all has to be redone. If you reject the nomination as untimely, you run the risk of the entire process being invalidated. Frustrating, isn’t it?

This impractical provision needs to be amended. Why not amend the call-for-nominations provision of Radburn to require setting a deadline and providing that no nomination can be accepted more than the third business day after the deadline? Isn’t that fair to everyone?

In the meantime, what can we do? For one thing, nothing in the law requires all notices and other documents to be mailed at the same time. So I have suggested that associations be prepared to include a nomination cut-off date in their procedures and at least begin the mailing process on the next business day. Have a reasonable number of envelopes and notices ready so all you will need to do is print the necessary number of absentee ballots and/or proxies. That number will depend on the size of the association; you want it to be the number that can reasonably be done that day. Remember, just imposing a nomination deadline is not enough. Even if you have one, the critical cut-off is the actual mailing date.

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.

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Electronic Voting in New Jersey Community Associations

Posted by on Apr 12, 2019 in Annual Meetings, Board Meetings, Elections/Voting, Legislation

 

 

 

By Ronald L. Perl, Esq., CCAL

For many years now, I have been convinced that electronic voting in community associations was inevitable. There is no doubt that electronic voting would make life easier for community managers, board members, and homeowners. When my clients were making by-law changes, I drafted amendments for associations that would take effect when the eventual change occurred. With the enactment of the Radburn Law, that change has now occurred and associations have the ability to adopt electronic notice and voting provisions. In my opinion, too few associations have taken advantage of this opportunity.

Electronic voting is sometimes misunderstood. It is not voting by e-mail. Rather, electronic voting means that ballots are cast on-line or through other electronic means and delivered directly to an association through a website or other secure service or program prior to a meeting. Notices are similarly handled on-line. For years, corporations have conducted elections electronically and the technology is readily available and at little cost for use by associations.

Electronic voting is more secure than using paper ballots, proxies, and absentee ballots. Verification of identity is provided. Results are available more quickly. Voter identity is protected (i.e., secret ballots). Weighted voting (different percentages for different units) is made easier. Even associations with fractional voting can be accommodated. There is greater confidence in the election process, since the collection and tabulation of votes is not handled either by management or the board. The process can result in cost savings for many associations.

In order to implement electronic notice and voting, associations will need to amend their by-laws. The good news is that the “reverse amendment” or “rejection vote” process in the Radburn Law is available for this task. Here is what Radburn specifically requires regarding electronic notice and voting:

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