On June 19, 2009, the Hudson County Law Division upheld a Northern Jersey common interest community association’s right to enforce its rules and regulations regarding the parking, registering, and towing of automobiles located within the association’s common elements. The association had ratified a set of rules & regulations which had originally been drafted by its developer/sponsor. These rules were a supplement to the association’s master deed and bylaws, but were not contained within those documents.
In the present case, a unit owner (the “Owner”) had failed to properly maintain his vehicle and was in violation of association rules which required all automobiles to be moved within the common elements at least once every 48 hours to prove that they were operational. This car had a flat tire and had not been moved in over two (2) weeks. The Association placed a notice of violation sticker on the car and two days later, had the vehicle towed. The Owner failed to redeem the car from the towing company over several months and the vehicle was subsequently junked. The Owner then filed a lawsuit against the association’s management company and the common interest community association seeking recovery of the value of the towed/junked car. The Association countersued to enforce its governing documents and the specific rules & regulations violated by the Owner.
After a trial and the hearing of witnesses presented by both sides, the Court ruled that the association had the right to enforce its rules & regulations. The Court recognized that the association’s board of trustees had the authority to draft and adopt reasonable rules and regulations which governed and limited a unit owner’s use of the common elements and areas.
Additionally, the Court found that the Owner’s attempt to sue the management company was essentially an attempt to circumvent the rules & regulations and governing documents, and therefore the Association was entitled to a recovery of its attorney’s fees and legal costs. At the end of the day, the Association was vindicated and the Owner was held responsible to pay the association’s legal fees and costs incurred to both defend itself and its management company, and enforce its rules & regulations.