Q&A: Abusing Pool Member Privileges

Q. Can a condo board suddenly decide to sell pool memberships to friends of owners and friends of boat owners? We have a marina with a liberal guest policy, but selling memberships to outside people is not beneficial to owners. Is it legal no resident input was considered?

                                       —Fed-Up Tenant

A. “Although I have not had an opportunity to review the master deed and bylaws for this particular association,” says Donald M. Onorato, an attorney based in Hackensack, “it does not appear that the board’s actions are in the best interests of the association. Many governing documents state basically that an owner of a condominium unit by acceptance of a deed is obligated to pay the association annual assessments or charges as duly imposed by an association. An owner becomes a member of the association by his acceptance of the deed.

“The writer states that the board has ‘sold’ pool memberships to people other than unit owners. I am assuming that the memberships are a product only available to unit owners. The writer also indicates that the association has a ‘liberal guest policy’ so that unit owners can bring friends or acquaintances who are not members to utilize the marina. The board cannot act outside the scope of its authority and its powers are derived from the governing documents as well as the Condominium Act, N.J.S.A. 46:8b-14.

“The question is what is considered a ‘pool membership.’ Many boards struggle over the amount of passes they should allow to unit owners depending upon the size of the pool and the amount of people who utilize it so that owners are not prejudiced and their health and safety is not jeopardized by overcrowding.

“I would suggest that the writer contact an attorney to review the association’s governing documents since it may be permissible for the board to provide the same ownership rights, i.e. ‘pool memberships’ to non-residents. If the governing documents allow associate members or non-owners to have these rights, then the board may be permitted to allow people to have these memberships, but without any language in the governing documents, I do not believe that the board’s actions are justified.”   

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