I live in a small condo association in New Jersey where the board and management
company have notified the homeowners that they will be replacing the stairwells
on the units. This work will be taking place over a few years, and has begun
with 13 targeted for this year (2015). When I questioned the decision about
which units were going to be done; I received a response that the decision was
based on professional advice from the contractor. This was concerning, because
this was the sole source used, and did not factor in other major components
(i.e. - misconduct). There are a number of homeowners who have consistently
neglected to pay the monthly association fees and also some who are renting
their units, which is prohibited per the Master Deed (each unit shall at all
times be the principal residence of the unit owner. No unit owner shall rent or
lease a unit if such renting or leasing will result in the unit no longer being
the principal place of residence for the unit owner). My questions are this: 1.
Why is it that the board has allowed priority to be given for the replacement
of the stairwells to homeowners who are not paying and/or are renting their
units over those homeowners who are paying and the unit is their primary place
of residence (for over 15 years)? 2. What recommendations do you have that
would help to get a satisfactory response and proper and corrective action
taken by the board?
Additionally, to note: I've already contacted the board and management company
on this matter twice to see how to get this resolved. As mentioned above, the
first response only stated that the decision was based on professional advice.
After submitting a followup, the second response received was that because I
involved other parties, my email has been forwarded to the association's
attorney and any other communications would be handled through the attorney. No
further response has been received from anyone. What can I do?
—-Waiting for Answers in Woodbridge
A “While the officers and directors of community associations have a fiduciary
relationship to the members (owners), board decisions are generally protected
by the "business judgment rule," says Michael D. Mirne, an attorney and
certified tax assessor with the Law Office of Michael D. Mirne, LLC in Ocean
Township. “The theory behind this rule is that courts should not substitute their judgment
for the judgment of the elected or appointed board members, so long as the
members of the board acted in compliance with established standards of conduct.
Accordingly, I do not believe that the homeowner can establish any wrongdoing on
the part of the association.”