Q&A: Don't Get Floored

hard wood floors which squeak probably requiring repairs or due to rotting  wood, not to mention ceiling leaks. I have attempted to contact both owners  through letters, however I have not received any responses in the mail. I have  reached out to my board/management company after studying my bylaws to  intervene with an ADR. I filed a complaint with the state of NJ Community  Affairs because we do not have a "fair and efficient" criteria of an ADR in  place and the board decided that my issue does not warrant the association  concern. The ADR states that board members cannot play a active role in the ADR  process and unfairly they did. What recourse do I have in this situation?  

 —Noisy in New Jersey  

A “Impositions by neighbors are a common concern and can often challenge harmony in  a planned real estate development,” says attorney Francine E. Tajfel from the firm Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A in Woodbridge. “In my own personal experience, I can still recall the piercing, unrelenting  scrape of dining room chairs above our own heads; such intrusions, big and  small, are often an indelible feature of condominium life and require  resolution to preserve peaceful co-existence.”  

 “As you may be aware, New Jersey’s Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA) requires a  condominium association to provide a means of alternative dispute resolution  when disputes arise between its members. In particular, Section 45:22A-44(c) of PREDFDA provides: “The association shall provide a fair and efficient procedure for the resolution  of disputes between individual unit owners and the association and between unit  owners, which shall be readily available as an alternative to litigation.” The PREDFDA regulations provide a similar requirement at Section 5:26-8.2(c),  and Section 46:8B-14(k) of the New Jersey Condominium Act further requires, in  part, that “[a] person other than an officer of the association, a member of the governing  board or a unit owner involved in the dispute shall be made available to  resolve the dispute.  

 “Pursuant to the Condominium Act, a unit owner has recourse to the Commissioner  of Community Affairs in the event of non-compliance by an association, and the  commissioner may compel the association to provide a “fair and efficient” ADR procedure.”  

 “Your narrative suggests that your condominium’s governing documents do not provide for any ADR procedure at all. If such is the case, you might find success in your correspondence with the  Commissioner of Community Affairs. In the meantime, you may wish to engage an attorney who specializes in matters  relating to condominium governance to review the condominium governing  documents, including without limitation any policy resolutions and rules and  regulations adopted by the Board. A letter from your counsel advising that the board’s members have failed to fulfill their fiduciary duty to provide an ADR  procedure may be enough to get the board’s attention.”  

 “A full review of the condominium governing documents by skilled counsel will  also permit you to identify any express violations by the neighboring unit  owners. For example, associations often adopt rules and regulations prohibiting the  installation of hardwood floors to prevent the very sound intrusions which  prompted your inquiry. You might also further consider the cause of the “squeaking.” Are your neighbors simply walking, or are children jumping rope above you or  otherwise unreasonably interfering with your use and enjoyment of your unit in  violation of the governing documents? Some condominium governing documents  provide enforcement techniques by the association against tenants, and these  might be worth exploring, as well.”  

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