The current recession has impacted New Jersey's condo and HOA communities in many profound ways. Boards and managers have been forced to address the challenge posed by multiple units in arrears, bank foreclosures, and projects put on indefinite hold.
Adding to the welter of issues is that of rental tenants in condo and co-op buildings. Individual unit owners have been renting their apartments to subtenants from time immemorial, and developers often rent out unsold units in new buildings until buyers can be found, but the economic crisis has increased the pressure to rent—either as a way of making money on a space the owner isn't occupying, or to staunch a developer's financial bleeding.
Common as it is, however, subletting isn't necessarily so welcome among boards and managers, for whom renters sometimes represent headaches rather than solutions. Fortunately there are a variety of remedies for mitigating problems associated with the growing tide of renters, and for maintaining a sense of cohesion in a mixed building or association.
Are Owners Better Neighbors?
"There is both legitimacy and exaggeration in the effects of leasing," says Jerome Liebowitz of Liebowitz & Jurecky Esqs. in Fort Lee. "It's typically frowned upon because of the perception that renters cannot be expected to take the same pride in a community or building that an owner would. Where there are a large percentage of leased units, the absence of resident owners may decrease the number of owners who are willing to run for boards or become involved in committees."
Gary Rosenberg, of the Law Offices of Gary Rosenberg in Florham Park, agrees that boards and managers often have a hard time seeing an upside to having rental residents—and the more renters there are, the less thrilled administrators become. "Ultimately, you are trying to build a close-knit community," he says. "In a co-op or condo association, the more owners that live there compared to renters, the better."