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Old 01-14-2011, 01:48 PM
LivinontheEdge LivinontheEdge is offline
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Location: Edgewater, NJ, USA
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NJ State - Condo Owners Rights -PLEASE READ

Department of Community Affairs Association Info

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I'm attaching info the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) gave me earlier this year. It deals with owners' rights in condominiums, co-ops and homeowners associations where the developer is no longer involved. I found it helpful, as did other people I've forwarded it to.

In some cases, the DCA will be able to assist you if the area is something they over which they have enforcement power and you can document your issue. In reality, you either need to have patience, get your own lawyer, or try getting enough other owners to see things your way.

Regarding lawyers, the Bergen County Bar Association Lawyer Referral service charges $30 (last I checked) for a 30-minute consultation with an expert. The individual who handled your closing is almost certainly not an expert.

DCA contact info http://www.nj.gov/dca/feedback.shtml
Bergen County Bar Association (201)-488-0032

Mike has attached a file which can be uploaded and listed in the main Real Estate page on forums. thank you Mike!
Attached Files DCA.zip (20.0 KB, 142 views)
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:34 PM
LivinontheEdge LivinontheEdge is offline
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Re: NJ State - Condo Owners Rights -PLEASE READ

sorry Mike's link broken ---4 important files below
(you DO NOT need an attorney to file these)

1. Access to Financial Records
2. Homeowner Assoc Complaint Form
3. Dear Homeowner Letter
4. Dispute Resolution


ACCESS TO FINANCIAL RECORDS


The New Jersey Condominium Act, N.J.S.A. 46:8B-14(g) states that an association, acting through its officers or governing board, shall be responsible for the maintenance of accounting records, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and shall be open to inspection at reasonable times by unit owners. Such records shall include a record of all receipts and expenditures and an account for each unit setting forth any shares of common expenses or other charges due, the due dates thereof, the present balance due, and any interest in common surplus. Section 16 (d) of the Act empowers our Department, acting through the Bureau of Homeowner Protection, to enforce this right of inspection. The right of inspection includes the right to make copies.

You as a unit owner should keep in mind that except for the records of receipts and expenditures and unit payment records, the law does not establish specific records as GAAP records. Classification of records is subject to differing interpretation by financial authorities. Thus, each association, in consultation with its accountant, should identify which of its other financial records are GAAP records and therefore open to inspection under the Condominium Act. If you have a basis for disagreeing with the classification, you may request alternative dispute resolution (ADR -see separate insert).

Please note, the Act does not require associations to provide copies of financial statements or records in the absence of a request. If the governing documents require greater disclosures, and the board does not follow them, you should request ADR. In making a request, it is best to do so in writing and with the understanding that there may be certain reasonable restrictions as to time and location in order to preserve the credibility of the records. If the governing documents or board rules do not specify to whom the request should be made, it should be made to the board.

The law does not mandate annual audits, but another law, The Non Profit Corporation Act, Title 15A, and many association by-laws require them. We are not empowered to enforce either Title 15A or your by-laws. You, however, may enforce such requirements yourself through ADR or private legal action.

If you feel you have been denied access to financial documents which constitute GAAP records, please fill in the enclosed form and mail it to the address listed on the form. Please also include a brief explanation of the circumstances under which you were denied access. The Association Regulation Unit has the authority under N.J.S.A. 46:8B-16(d) to ensure an association responds to your request to review and copy the financial records required to be kept.

For further information on either the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act, N.J.S. 45:22A-21 or the Condominium Act, N.J.S. 46:8B-1, you should look under the heading ‘Statutes’ at www.njleg.state.nj.us.

2. HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATION
COMPLAINT FORM

Please complete this form only if the developer is no longer involved in the project.
If you have a complaint and the developer is still involved, call the PRED unit at (609) 984-7574.
If you do not own the unit, please have the owner complete this form.
If you are completing this form for the owner, indicate owner’s name and your relationship to the owner.
Mail to:
Association Regulation Unit
Planned Real Estate Development
Bureau of Homeowner Protection
Post Office Box 805
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0805

Name of Complainant ___________________________________

Address ___________________________________

___________________________________

Phone Number during ____________________________________
normal business hours

Date Form Filled In ___________________________________


Type of Association Condominium _____ Cooperative _____ Homeowners Association ____
(Please check one)

Name of Association ___________________________________

Address of Association ___________________________________
(Street Address)
____________________________________
(Municipality) (County)

President’s Name ____________________________________

Mailing Address ____________________________________
(for association business)
____________________________________

Name of Property Manager ___________________________________
(if applicable)
Telephone Number ___________________________________

Is your association part of a master association? Yes _________ No________________

If yes, name of master association: __________________________________________________ _


HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATION
COMPLAINT FORM (CON’T)
This part of the form must be filled out in order for your complaint to be processed.

Nature of Complaint (please check all that apply)
Please include a brief explanation of each item marked. Do not send documents other than copies of letters to the board/association regarding ADR, financial record access, or requests for minutes of open public meetings. We cannot process your complaint without the appropriate supporting documentation.

_______ No ADR procedure
(You must include a copy of your written request for a copy of the ADR procedure.)

_______ Denied access to ADR
(You must include a copy of your written request for ADR.)

_______ Denied access to financial records
(You must include a copy of your written request to review the financial records.)

_______ Minutes not provided from open public meeting
(You must include a copy of your written request for a copy of the minutes.)

_________ Appropriate Notice for open public meeting not given
(What were the circumstances which make you believe notice was not provided? Did you check with the association office to verify it had a copy of the notice?)

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ____________________________

3. Homeowner Letter




Dear Homeowner:

You recently called to request our assistance in resolving concerns with your association. Please be advised that the Department of Community Affairs, Association Regulations unit, has authority to intervene in three specific areas involving the operation of owner controlled associations. We have the responsibility to ensure that associations enact and properly administer alternate dispute resolution procedures (ADR), comply with open public meeting requirements, and provide owners reasonable access to financial documents.

In order to more fully inform you about our jurisdiction, we are sending you information sheets which address the three areas referenced above.

We trust the information supplied will be useful to you.

If you should need to make a formal complaint, please fill out the enclosed complaint sheet and mail it to us at the address indicated on the sheet. Please also include a brief explanation of the complaint.


Association Regulation Unit
Planned Real Estate Development


Enclosures



4. Alternative Resolution


ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION



An amendment to the Condominium Act, N.J.S.A. 46:8B-14, P.L.1995 c. 313 and the law governing planned real estate developments, N.J.S.A. 45:22A-44, require associations to provide “fair and efficient” means for unit owners to resolve disputes between one another or against the association. It is referred to as alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This is required as an alternative to litigation. The law requires condominium associations to provide written notice of dispute resolution as a condition of issuing a fine (N.J.S.A. 46:8B-15f.).

The Association Regulation Unit within the Planned Real Estate Development section has the responsibility to require associations to enact alternate dispute resolution procedures if the deficiency is brought to its attention. This office cannot, however, provide ADR and cannot address the substance of your dispute. For example, this office cannot require an association’s board to follow its bylaws or take maintenance actions, remove individual board members, order board members to take or rescind actions, order revisions to or question financial practices (other than those related to the obligation to disclose generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP records), or force boards to change discretionary actions.

Unit owners are empowered to take action to correct such matters either through ADR or litigation as well as by electing new board members. Any allegations of fraud or other criminal conduct should be brought to the attention of your county prosecutor or other pertinent law enforcement agency. Please note: the State Attorney General represents State agencies and general public interests and does not act on individual complaints regarding allegations of board misconduct.

The applicability of ADR to a specific complaint requires a determination of whether it relates to a discretionary board management decision or constitutes a violation of governing documents (Master Deed, Bylaws, Association Rules, etc.). Matters in which boards properly exercise discretion are subject to review through the democratic process (petitions, elections, etc.) while violations of governing documents or other legal requirements justify the use of the ADR procedure. Thus, if you proceed to ADR, you should be prepared to refer to specific laws or portions of the governing documents which you believe were violated.

There is no formality required to request ADR but you should make it in writing, to the board, unless the procedure of your association provides otherwise. You should do so even if your association does not have a specific written ADR procedure or has one which does not appear to satisfy the “fair and efficient” criteria. In your request, state your complaint clearly and specifically request that you be provided ADR. If you do not have a copy of your association’s ADR procedure, you should request that the board or its agent supply you with one.

You may inform the board that if there is no response within 14 days you will notify this office. Please note, we do not require that associations file their ADR procedures with us and there is no requirement to receive our approval before instituting a procedure.











Page 2
Alternative Dispute Resolution


Each association is authorized to design the ADR procedure which it feels best satisfies the needs of its owners. Procedures may range from mediation (informal recommendations) rendered by designated neighbors to non-binding arbitration (formal decisions) in a court like setting with numerous formalities overseen by a trained individual. ADR providers are appointed by a board but the association should have an independent means of selection. Whoever is selected must be impartial.

ADR was intended as an alternative to litigation, thus it is not necessary to have legal counsel. However, you may, if you choose, be represented.

Although there is no standard ADR procedure, there is one fundamental rule; the board cannot be the ADR provider. Thus, neither the board nor any member can sit as or with the ADR panel. The board or its members or agent or representative can appear and present the board’s position. The law provides that either party may appeal to court following an ADR procedure. The board cannot appeal a decision to itself. Our office is not empowered to overturn or even modify the outcome of an ADR proceeding.

Please note that ADR is not automatically binding on boards. Thus, if a board fails to cooperate with a recommendation or arbitration decision against it, you must enforce your right in court. Additionally, ADR is not a means to secure an order to stop a board from taking action or to force a board to act. These can only be secured through appropriate court proceedings. Moreover, ADR is not the means to obtain monetary damages against the association.

If you do not receive a positive response to your request for ADR or the association informs you there is no ADR, please fill in the enclosed form and mail it to the address listed on the form. Please also include a brief explanation of the circumstances under which you were denied your ADR rights or how you know there are no ADR procedures.

For further information on either the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act, N.J.S. 45:22A-21 or the Condominium Act, N.J.S. 46:8B-1, you should look under the heading ‘Statutes’ at www.njleg.state.nj.us.
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