Q&A: Apathetic Board

Q I just attended our yearly condo meeting. The minutes were not read and there was no election of officers. The board claimed that they don’t have to have elections—only every two or three years. Issues that we have had over the last year were not dealt with. An accountant is paying the bills and we have a couple cleaning the building. That is all that’s done on a regular basis. The board does not take care of business, unless I complain to them. What can I do?

—Ready to Take Action in Jersey

A “Initially, it appears that many of your concerns may be warranted. But, without reviewing the master deed and bylaws it will be difficult to provide a complete answer. However, I will do the best I can with the information I have,” says Eric D. Brophy, Esq. of Diegnan & Brophy, LLC in Berkeley Heights.

“First, your association’s master deed and bylaws will set forth the manner and method by which elections must be conducted. Commonly, associations have what is called a staggered board in which elections are held every year. It is unusual for no election to take place at all for several years. A review of your association’s master deed and bylaws, however, will provide a more definite answer. As an association member you are entitled to a copy of the master deed and bylaws (although you may be required to pay for same).

“Second, while the board may not be technically required to read the meeting minutes from the previous meeting into the record, it is often done out of courtesy to the residents to keep them apprised of events and decisions being made on their behalf. However, what the board is required to provide, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 46:8B-13, is a written copy of the prior meetings minutes before the association’s next open meeting. Failure to do so is a clear violation of the New Jersey Condominium Act.

“Also, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 46:8B-14(g), the association is required to make all accounting records, ‘open to inspection at reasonable times by unit owner.’ A written request for inspection of the accounting records should be made so a thorough evaluation can be made by a professional.

“Finally, a board ‘. . . shall be responsible for the performance of the following duties, the costs of which shall be common expenses. (a) the maintenance, repair, replacement, cleaning and sanitation of the common elements. . .’ N.J.S.A. 46:8B-14. Thus, if the board is not providing general maintenance and repairs, it is in violation of the Act.

“As a unit owner, you have rights. It is suggested that you contact an attorney specializing in condominium law to discuss your issues in more detail.”

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