This has all been speculated and we’re not sure if it will happen; however, many of us are wondering if this can be done legally. What can we do about it if a majority of the board approves this?
—Conflicted in a Condo
A “Unless this condominium’s master deed and/or bylaws prohibit same, it is elementary that the board of a condominium can decide to procure maintenance services via an independent firm, or direct employee, with the vote or approval of the unit owners. In turn, as a general and initial matter, the board can take a direct employee for these services, on the condominium’s behalf,” says David Byrne, a shareholder attorney with the firm of Stark & Stark in Lawrenceville.
“The next threshold inquiry involved here is that relating to N.J.S.A. 46:8B-13(a). This provision of New Jersey’s Condominium Act provides: ‘...all meetings of that governing board, except conference or working sessions at which no binding votes are to be taken, shall be open to attendance by all unit owners, and adequate notice of any such meeting shall be given to all unit owners in such manner as the bylaws shall prescribe…’
“While this provision includes language empowering a condominium board to make ‘employment’ decisions at meetings not open to attendance by owners, that should be interpreted as involving employment matters after the actual decision is made to create the employment. This ‘open meeting’ provision of the condominium act does not entitle the unit owners to participate in any board votes and/or discussions surrounding the decision to engage the direct employee. The board must simply either vote on the hiring at a board meeting (proper notice having been given) open to the attendance of unit owners, or ‘ratify’ a prior decision in that regard, at such an open meeting.