Q&A: Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

Q 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.”

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Comments

  • I have been an owner/resident in my complex for the past 19 years . There never has been a cap on rental units. The board without notifying the owners has put a limit on the number apartments that are allowed rent. Can this be legal.