When it comes to dealing with the myriad professionals who help make a co-op or condo association run smoothly, licensing can be a significant umbrella protecting board members and residents alike from potential problems. Choosing a licensed professional to serve as accountant, to build that pool house, to manage the lawn and shrubbery or remove snow each year will help ensure that the job is being done well and completed in a way that will be beneficial to the association both in terms of quality and liability.
Knowing what to look for in terms of licensing and knowing when to ask the big questions in terms of qualifications are two vitally important skills for board and management alike to possess. Happily, there are a significant number of resources available in the state of New Jersey to help sort out the issue of licensing, a topic that can be overwhelming. It is a subject that should never be glossed over, however, no matter how much confusion it might inspire.
First Things First
The State of New Jersey's Permits, Licensing and Certification website (www.state.nj.us/LCI) offers a handy guidebook outlining exactly which professions need what kind of licenses to do business within state borders. The fact that the list runs 57 pages should suggest the thoroughness with which the state tackles the subject of licensing. Nearly every imaginable profession, from being a jockey to running a child care facility to selling organic produce, is listed, outlining which individuals and corporations need licenses, which must be certified and which must register with the state or other government entities.
For co-op boards and condo associations, the most important entries have to do with those professionals with whom they work on a consistent basis: attorneys, engineers, HVAC technicians, electricians, plumbers, irrigation system installers, landscapers, laundry facility providers, builders and construction firms, accountants, interior designers and others. On that list, the only profession that does not require some form of licensing, certification or registration from the state of New Jersey is interior design.
Some of the licensing requirements include the obvious ones such as certification from the New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners for attorneys. An engineering firm must have a license from the State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, part of the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety's Division of Consumer Affairs. That department also offers licensing for landscapers, homebuilders and contractors engaged in home improvement. Laundry facility providers must secure licensing from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Water Quality, while the company that installs and maintains the association's sprinkler system each year requires certification from that same department. When it comes to the men and women who tackle those electrical, plumbing and HVAC problems, certification and licensing become even more complex. HVAC professionals require a license from the Office of Boiler and Pressure Valve Compliance, an entity within the Department of Community Affairs. At the same time, they also require an electrical and plumbing license and Freon certification from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and they must register with the Division of Consumer Affairs' Department of Law and Public Safety.