As drone technology advances and the number of drones in the air increases, managers and board members in community associations are asking about drone policies. If drones are being used in your community or if there is a plan for their use, whether recreational or commercial, your board should adopt a drone policy. When thinking of drone use, most people may think of recreational drones operated by “those darn kids.” Recreational drones are certainly something associations should stay on top of, with privacy and safety of residents being paramount. Also, recreational drone use is not limited to children and policies should be neutrally applied to avoid running afoul of the law. There are limited government regulations relating to this type of drone use and association policies are an important supplement. Drone delivery service has been hyped for some time now. Who wouldn’t want to order cold and flu medicine from the comfort of your couch and have it on your doorstep within the hour? Drone delivery is almost certainly on its way to your community one day and we can expect to see further government regulation as it arrives. When it does, your community policies can be adopted once you know what this operation looks like and how it is otherwise being regulated. There are other business applications for drones that likely require more immediate attention in your community association. These include vendors hired by homeowners and the association, but also entities such as utilities who may have the right to enter association property for certain purposes. The FAA has enacted rules for the use of commercial drones but many community association residents may be concerned that they do not go far enough to protect individual privacy, safety concerns, or the right to quiet enjoyment of one’s home. Managers and board members are right to evaluate and address these concerns through written drone policies which are consistent with current law. If your board is considering a drone policy, it should work with legal counsel because local, state, and federal regulations are expected to continue to change.
One of the largest line items in any condominium association’s budget is its insurance premium. Condominium associations are required, pursuant to their governing documents, to carry adequate property insurance to address common elements (and in many cases, unit owners’ improvements), liability insurance, and director’s and officer’s insurance coverage. Further, condominium associations budget for any insurance claims that may trigger the need to meet an insurance deductible. That deductible may be $10K per claim.
A New Jersey trial court has upheld the suspension of parking privileges against a delinquent condominium owner. In this case, the condominium association adopted a Resolution – based on authority from the governing documents – that revoked parking privileges for habitually delinquent unit owners. The unit owner involved failed to pay his common expense fees and had accrued a substantial balance. After notice and an offer of alternative dispute resolution, which was rejected by the unit owner, the Association revoked his parking privileges. Continue Reading Court Upholds Association Revocation of Parking Privileges
According to a September report from RealtyTrac, nationwide foreclosure rates have dropped 24% from a year ago. For the first time since the real estate crisis foreclosure timelines have also decreased. Experts suggest the reduction in timelines is the best indication of a full market recovery because it shows states are clearing the backlog of foreclosures.
Unfortunately this improvement has not carried over to New Jersey which still ranks #2 for the highest foreclosure rates. Continue Reading Foreclosures—New Jersey Recovery Still Slow
Stark & Stark Shareholder Christopher Florio recently joined Ray Dickey from AssociationHelpNow to discuss treatment of renters and owners as it applies to homeowner association board members, community managers, and management companies. They discuss board meetings, parking, and access to the association recreation facilities. Check out the video below.
Many people do not realize that Condominium Associations can foreclose units in the same manner as a mortgagee, pursuant to N.JS.A. 46:8B-21.
The Complaint to Foreclose is filed in the County where the unit is located. A copy of the filed Complaint is then served upon the unit owner via personal service. The unit owner will have 35 days to file an Answer to the Association’s Complaint. In the event the Unit Owner fails to file an Answer, the Association can proceed with filing a Request to Enter Default.
Community associations in New Jersey which have pet restrictions may need to permit a disabled resident to maintain an animal in his or her unit depending on needs. This rule could even apply to a visiting guest who is disabled.
Most people understand that the blind are entitled to use a guide dog wherever they go. However, there are other types of animals that also assist individuals with different types of disabilities and these also must be allowed despite any community pet restrictions. This could range from a monkey which performs tasks for a person with a spinal cord injury to a cat that provides emotional support to an individual with PTSD. Even if your association prohibits pets (or has weight or size restrictions for pets) they may be required to permit such animals for disabled residents or guests.
Once association counsel obtains a personal Judgment against the unit owner for failure to pay maintenance fees, late fees, attorneys’ fees and costs, and other charges, we look for ways to collect on the Judgment. If delinquent unit owner rents his unit, one method of collecting on the Judgment is by levying the rental income.
The process starts by association counsel requesting tenant information from management and the board; we need information such as the names of the tenants, copies of any leases management may have on file, license plate numbers of the vehicles driven by the tenants, etc. Once we obtain this information, we file an Execution against Goods and Chattels. A judge will review and sign the Execution against Goods and Chattels, authorizing a Court officer to levy the rent in an amount up to the Judgment amount, plus Court officer commissions and other Court costs. Once the Order is signed, the case is assigned to a Court officer. The Court officer will then serve the tenant with the Execution against Goods and Chattels, which mandates that the tenant must pay his/her rent to the Court Officer, rather than to the delinquent unit owner.
At that point, the tenant will pay the rent to the Court Officer. The Court officer will notify association counsel that the rents have been levied. Association counsel then files a Motion to turn over funds that were levied. The Motion places the unit owner on notice that his/her rental income is about to be turned over to the association.
Once the Order to turnover funds is entered, it is served upon the Court officer, who will then forward the monies to association counsel. This process continues until the Judgment amount, plus court officer commissions and court costs are satisfied.
The bylaws of most community associations permit members to vote “in person” or “by proxy.” Voting “in person” means just what it sounds like: a member attends a meeting and casts their vote while physically in attendance. But what does voting “by proxy” mean? Black’s Law Dictionary defines a “proxy” as the written authorization given by one person to another so that the second person can act for the first.
Thus, when a member of a community association votes by proxy, they give written authorization for another person to vote for them. It may be tempting to take short cuts in this process, but if your members are voting by proxy, they must actually execute a proper proxy.
Once association counsel obtains a personal Judgment against a unit owner for failure to pay maintenance fees, late fees, attorneys’ fees and costs, and other charges, we look for ways to collect on the Judgment. One method of collecting on the Judgment is by garnishing the unit owner’s wages.
The process starts by conducting an employment search. Once we find that a unit owner is employed, we file a Notice of Application for Wage Execution, Order, Certification and Execution against Earnings pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 1673 and N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56. After a judge signs the Order allowing for the wage execution, the case is assigned to a Court officer. The Court officer then takes the Order and serves the unit owner’s employer with a copy of the Order. The Order has specific instructions to the employer mandating him/her to garnish the unit owner’s wages. In no event shall more than 10% of the unit owner’s gross salary be withheld.
The employer is ordered to deduct a certain amount from the earnings and to pay that sum over to the Court officer. Once the Court officer receives the monies, he/she forwards the check to association counsel, and this process continues until the Judgment amount, plus Court officer commissions, is paid in full.
Many times, once a unit owner notices that his/her wages are being garnished, they contact association counsel to pay off the Judgment amount, so that the association will put a stop on the wage garnishment process. Either way, we find the wage garnishment process to be an effective method of collecting on Judgments.