Q&A: Builder in Control of Meetings Q&A

Q For the past three years, I have lived in a condominium complex that was built approximately five years ago. The condo association is composed of five members, three of which include the builder and two others employed by the builder. Only two members are residents. So few units have been sold there aren’t enough shareholders to be part of the association. Last spring, a representative of the builder stated at a meeting that there would no longer be monthly meetings. In fact, there will be no more meetings open to all of the residents. Is this legal?

—Discouraged Condo Owner

A The number of annual meetings is controlled by the condominium master deed and bylaws which should be available from the association, or if necessary, they are obtainable from the county clerk’s office where the condominium is located,” says attorney Stephen Kotzas, of Berry Sahradnik Riordan & Benson in Toms River.

“Usually, bylaws provide for a minimum of at least one annual meeting. Thus, the condominium documents should be consulted first in order to determine the number of annual meetings required. The association does not have the power to hold closed meetings except for specifically enumerated statutory exceptions such as discussions of pending litigation. If there was a public offering statement it will contain specific answers to these questions. If the developer ‘holds for sale in the ordinary course of business one or more units’ he shall be entitled to at least one seat on the board. Conversely, if he is no longer selling units, the unit owners may wish to take control of the association; however, this is a major commitment when a condominium is not fully sold out and should only be undertaken when absolutely necessary. In this case, you should consider requesting an alternate dispute resolution through CAI if the association refuses to comply with its bylaws.”

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