NJ LAC Report

Nov 19, 2015

As the Delaware Valley Chapter’s delegate to the CAI-National Legislative Action Committee –New Jersey (LAC), I report to the Chapter’s Board on the efforts of the NJ LAC to initiate, monitor, negotiate, support and sometimes oppose legislation in Trenton, all with the goal of benefitting New Jersey’s common interest community associations, their boards and their residents.

As reported in the July/August issue of Community Assets, legislative sessions in New Jersey last two years, with the current legislative session ending in January 2016.  Any proposed legislation that is not passed by the both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor by the end of the current legislative session will have to be reintroduced in the next session which runs from January 2016 to January 2018.  Legislative elections are being held in New Jersey on November 3, 2015, so it is likely that little legislative activity will take place before then.  However, the “lame duck” session (from Election Day until January 11, 2016) may prove to be very active.

The NJ LAC is currently pursuing several important legislative initiatives that impact the 6,600 community associations in New Jersey.  Some have gathered steam and may very well be passed into law before the end of this session.  Others have been slowly moving through the legislative process, and the NJ LAC is continuing its efforts to support and encourage passage of several pieces of legislation that will positively affect community associations in New Jersey.

The Municipal Services Act (MSA), known to many as “the Kelly Bill”, became law in New Jersey in 1991. It was intended to address the unfairness of “double taxation” of members of community associations who pay municipal taxes, which are used to pay for various municipal services, and who also pay community association assessments which are used to pay for many of those same services within their private communities.  The MSA currently requires municipalities to reimburse a qualified private community association for the cost incurred to privately remove snow and ice from the roadways, collect leaves from along the roadways, collect recyclables and trash from along the roadways, and for lighting of the roadways.  The Act provides, in the alternative, that the municipality may directly provide any one of more of those four services to a qualified private community.  The NJ LAC favors amending the MSA by expanding that list of four municipal services to include other services for which community associations in New Jersey are paying double, including maintenance of fire hydrant systems, street paving, cleaning of storm drains, repair and replacement of sanitary sewer and water systems (including mains and pump stations), and maintenance of stormwater detention basins.  Discussions with the NJ League of Municipalities on this issue are ongoing and encouraging.

Several states with large numbers of community associations require that common interest community managers in their states be sufficiently trained and licensed. The New Jersey Manager Licensing bill (S-1367), intended to establish education, training and experience standards for community managers and to provide for appropriate examination licensing of those persons who wish to serve in that capacity in New Jersey, was passed by both the Assembly and the Senate in 2014 and was submitted to Governor Christie for passage into law in early 2015. The Governor, concerned that the implementation and enforcement of this legislation would add too high a cost to the State’s budget, vetoed it.  The NJ LAC believes the cost information on which the Governor relied to veto the legislation was artificially inflated, and negotiations on an alternative bill to require either “certification” or “registration” of all property managers in NJ, instead of licensing, are currently being pursued.

To update the progress on the issue of expediting the foreclosure process on vacant properties reported in the July/August issue of Community Trends, Senate bill 2545/Assembly bill 3793 (which provides that if the foreclosing lender chooses not to expedite the foreclosure process, the lender would be required to pay the association assessments imposed against the unit until title is transferred to a new owner, or the lender would be required to agree to the appointment of a rent receiver so that the association could recover the past due and ongoing assessments from the rents received from the unit), is gaining support in the legislature. It remains the LAC’s hope that these bills will be negotiated and passed during the upcoming lame duck session and signed into law by the Governor before the end of this current legislative session in January 2016. 

Other legislative issues receiving priority consideration by the NJ LAC include the advancement of homeowner rights by way of amending and consolidating the existing patchwork of community association laws.   More specifics on this and other pending issues will be provided in upcoming issues of Community Assets. If you would like to see which bills pending in the NJ Legislature are being monitored by the NJ LAC, go to www.cainj.org/legislative.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

George Greatrex, Esq. is a partner with the Cherry Hill law firm of Shivers, Gosnay & Greatrex, LLC, a CAI Business Partner, and serves as a delegate to CAI’s NJ-LAC.  His practice focuses on community association law, and his firm represents approximately 160 community associations in South and Central New Jersey.  Mr. Greatrex can be contacted via email at ggreatrex@sgglawfirm.com


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