On July 13, 2017, Governor Christie signed into law new legislation that was initiated as a direct response to the New Jersey Appellate Division’s decision in Moore v. Radburn Ass’n, Inc. The new law is designed to make community association elections, including condominium associations, decidedly more democratic.
In Radburn, it had been determined that a Radburn Association resident was not considered a member of the Association simply by living in that community and thus did not enjoy the same voting rights and privileges Members enjoyed. According to the Association’s bylaws, Members were “define[d] as those persons: (1) specifically named in the Certificate of Incorporation; (2) elected to serve as trustees; or (3) elected to membership by current members.”
This new legislation, however, made several changes to the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA) that are designed not only to expand the voting rights of association members, but also the right to become an association member, including:
- That membership of an association must be comprised of each unit owner, meaning that, simply by being a unit owner, one is also a member of the association. Additionally, the new law permits Boards to extend membership to tenants via the Association’s bylaws.
- With regard to an election meeting, it is required that associations provide written notice of an election meeting to all association members no less than 14 days, but no more than 60 days prior to the election date. Also, at least 30 days prior to the date that notice of the election meeting is sent, associations must provide all association members with written notice of their right to nominate either themselves, assuming they are in good standing, or other association members in good standing for a position on the Board. The new law also permits Boards to extend the right to vote to tenants via the bylaws.
- The new law provides at least two ways by which a Board may amend the bylaws without a majority vote of the association members. First, a Board is permitted to amend the bylaws to the extent necessary to comply with local, state, or federal law. Second, by providing notice to all association members of the proposed amendment, which must include a ballot to reject the amendment, and if fewer than ten percent (10%) of the association members vote to reject the amendment within thirty (30) days, the amendment passes.
The foregoing are just a few changes implemented by the new legislation. Whether an Association must amend its bylaws to be consistent with the new law depends almost entirely on the Association’s current Master Deed and Bylaws. However, Boards must be made aware of these changes going forward, as current portions of an Association’s Master Deed and bylaws may no longer be compliant with the requirements of the law.