Q&A: Down and Dirty in New Jersey Down and Dirty in New Jersey

Q This seems like a strange rule to have and I can’t think of a reason why it would be an issue. Our condo, which is a new construction, has prohibited the use of doormats. They say they are a hazard. We’re tracking dirt in and out of our units, especially in bad weather. Is this even legal?

—Unruly in Union

A “The New Jersey Condominium Act grants the governing board of a condominium association the affirmative obligation to adopt, distribute, amend and enforce rules and regulations governing the use and operation of the condominium and the condominium property and the use of the common elements. (N.J.S.A. 46:8B-14 9(c)). Further, typical condominium bylaws also specifically empower the board to adopt and enforce reasonable rules and regulations,” says Judith A. Fallat, Esq., an attorney with her own law practice in Denville. “Accordingly, it is likely that the association which is the subject of this question, does have the authority to adopt the prohibition against doormats.

“A restriction which a board otherwise has the authority to adopt could be found invalid if it was adopted without the due process required by the Condominium Act or the governing documents of the association. Also, the provision of the Condominium Act noted above specifies that the power of a board to adopt rules and regulations is subject to the right of a majority of unit owners to change any such rules. Therefore, if a majority of unit owners object to the restriction on doormats, the rule can be overturned.

“Even a restriction which a board has the authority to adopt and has adopted in accordance with due process procedures must be reasonable. Typically, rules and regulations may be enforced in a manner ‘not inconsistent with the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the community.’ (N.J.S.A.46:8B-14(j)).

“Although the unit owner who has posed this question characterizes the prohibition against the use of doormats as ‘nit-picking,’ if the association governing board can demonstrate that the adoption of the restriction protects and furthers the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the community, the restriction may very well be upheld as reasonable. For example, the association may be able to establish that doormats on the common elements create a tripping hazard or other safety issue which endangers residents and their guests, and/or exposes the association to liability.

“Ultimately, the question of whether a rule is reasonable and valid within the scope of the association’s authority may involve a subjective determination by a fact finder.”

“The landlord/owner could also demand that the association enforce restrictions and covenants in the governing documents. Most governing documents include a prohibition against creating a nuisance or unreasonable annoyance, but slamming a door is probably not at that level. If an association were involved at this level of dispute between occupants, there would be virtually no end to the board’s responsibility.”

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Comments

  • A FRIEND FELL DOWN THE STAIRS OUTSIDE AFTER THE RAILING BROOKE, THE ASSOCIATION CALLED ME AND SAID THEY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE DUE TO THEM NOT PUTTING THE RAILING UP, BUT THE RAILING WAS ALREADY THERE WHEN I BOUGHT THE UNIT. THEY MUST HAVE APPROVED OR ALLOWED A PREVIOUS OWNER TO PUT THIS UP THERE IS ABOUT 20 OUTSIDE STAIRS LEADING TO MY CONDO. IS IT TRUE THAT I AM ONLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INSIDE OF THE UNIT? AND THE OTHER QUESTION IS THAT THIS FRIEND WAS DRINKING AND TAKING MEDICATION AT THE TIME OF THE FALL AND THE POLICE SAID SHE WAS INTOXICATED AT THE TIME OF FALLING.