February 2012

Thomas C. Martin, Esq.
Nowell Amoroso Klein Bierman, P.A., Chair, CAI-NJ Legislative Action Committee

The 215th New Jersey legislative session has now opened.  Many additional laws from the prior session were re-introduced in the new session.  As a result, some of the same bills remain in consideration.

Importantly, the Community Associations Institute applied vigorously for an exception to certain legislation related to grounds keeping.  We worked directly with the legislature on this very important issue.  The proposed law would have placed unnecessary and rather costly burdens on our common ownership interest associations.  In addition, the bill under consideration would have placed other regulatory burdens on how our constituent membership governs their own property and land.  Obviously, we at the Community Associations Institute want to make every effort on behalf of our membership to reduce costs imposed by Trenton.  Further, we want to reduce unnecessary regulation coming from Trenton.

We are happy to report these efforts paid off.  We have achieved the desired exception for our common ownership interest associations.  Thus, we are happy that our membership will not have Trenton watching over their shoulders as they maintain their common grounds.  Through our efforts, common ownership associations are now exempted from the proposed bill.  One of our overarching goals at the Community Associations Institute is to disentangle our membership from these kinds of laws, rules and costly regulations, whenever possible.

We are very pleased to have been able to achieve such a successful result for our membership working through our staff and with our new governmental affairs firm, MBI*GluckShaw.

This is a significantly positive development and we take this opportunity to thank all involved in the process of achieving such an important goal.

We are also currently working in favor of several additional legislative initiatives.  Among them, we are in the process of trying to streamline the myriad of laws and rules governing boards of directors.  Efforts are underway to clarify the responsibilities of board members and to increase transparency under a rational model.  This will allow boards to function while preserving the right of equity unit owners.  A careful balance and clarity in the law is critical on these issues rather than a remedy imposed on all from Trenton without a voice from the Community Associations Institute.  Overall, we hope to achieve a measure that addresses issues such as potential conflicts. In addition, whenever possible, disputes between neighbors should be brought to alternative dispute resolution (again, if possible).  In this way, it may help tend to allow all concerned to collaborate on a result.  Moreover, alternative dispute resolution may have added benefits of keeping counsel fees and costs for all down as much as possible.

Additional matters are still pending on the foreclosure front, elusive mold and indoor air quality standards, structural safety, title work, developer fees and, of course, property tax assessments.

We will continue to keep you advised of the developments occurring in Trenton.  Additional bills seem to be added on a near-daily basis.

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