Q&A: Money for Repairs

Q I live in a 51-unit condo complex in Essex County, New Jersey. The association  is attempting to get a loan for needed repairs of at least $200,000, however  three attempts were denied due to a delinquency in condo dues totaling $35,000.  There are no added amenities where I reside just an assigned parking space, in  which the board is refusing to suspend the space and administer a towing  procedure for those delinquent homeowners (3 are in collections and 5 have  liens). Can I withhold my payment until the board takes strong action against  these homeowners? Enough has not been done to collect outstanding debt and this  assessment would cause a hardship on me as well. I also requested to view a  sample spreadsheet of the collection payments with the names omitted, of  course. I believe I had the legal right to request this. We were just assessed  12/2011, due to the winter storms. It appears that for 2012 we will be asked to  contribute another assessment, and the bank loan does not look promising. What  action can I and other residents take?  

 —Looking for Relief

A “Condominium unit owners may not withhold payment of association fees because of  dissatisfaction with the level of maintenance, association operations, board  policy, or otherwise,” explains Judith Fallat, an attorney in Denville. “The New Jersey Condominium Act specifically provides, in pertinent part, at  N.J.S.A. 46:8B-17 that: A unit owner shall, by acceptance of title, be  conclusively presumed to have agreed to pay his proportionate share of common  expenses accruing while he is the owner of a unit.  

 “This obligation to pay assessments is recognized as unconditional. See Glen v.  June, 344 N.J. Super. 371, 376-377 (App Div 2001), citing Holbert v. Great  Gorge Village, 281 N.J. Super. 222, 226 (Ch Div. 1994). In addition, the unit  deed under which someone purchases a condominium unit typically provides that  the interest is purchased subject to the covenants and restrictions contained  in the master deed. Most association governing documents also contain language  which states that the acceptance of a deed or conveyance of a unit shall  constitute an agreement that the provisions of the master deed and bylaws will  be complied with.  

 “Accordingly, the payment of assessments is a membership obligation imposed on  unit owners by the association, and it is the board’s affirmative duty to collect the common expenses and assessments from the unit  owners together with any costs and expenses of collection thereof.  

 The New Jersey Condominium Act further provides at N.J.S.A. 46:8B-17 that: no  unit owner may exempt himself from liability for his share of common expenses  by waiver of the enjoyment of the right to use any of the common elements or by  abandonment of his unit or otherwise.”  

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