On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, Governor Murphy signed into law Senate Bill 396, which automatically tolls (i.e. pauses) the 6-year Statute of Limitations for construction defect claims by condominium and/or homeowner associations and cooperative corporations until the first election when unit owners take majority control of the association board (“Transition”). Although not black letter law, Transition had historically been recognized as the milestone when the Statute of Limitations began to run for construction defect claims.
The New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation Act (N.J.S.A. 15A:5-1, et seq.) (the “Act”) was amended on Monday, January 22, 2022, to permanently allow remote community association member meetings (using Zoom, Teams, or other remote communication technologies). Previously, the Act permitted remote meetings of members-only when New Jersey was in a declared state of emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This new legislation (A5549/S4112) gives communities more flexibility in conducting association member meetings and will hopefully result in increased member attendance for quorum and voting purposes. Continue Reading New Legislation Permanently Allows Community Association Members to Participate in Member Meetings Via Remote Communication
Under New Jersey’s current statute of limitations, N.J.S.A. §2A:14-1, all construction defect claims, i.e. property damage claims, must be filed within six years from when the potential claimant knew or should have known he or she had a claim. Tempered only by the equitable doctrine referred to as the “discovery rule,” which stops the limitations clock from running under certain circumstances, New Jersey’s six-year statute applies equally to all property damage claimants. However, a bill working its way through the legislative process in New Jersey may change the game for common interest properties, including co-ops, community associations, and condominiums.
This week the New Jersey Appellate Division issued its Order and Opinion in the case of Collins v. PJW Servs., 2021 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1556. Plaintiffs owned a home in Haddonfield, New Jersey, and wanted to add an extension, including a second story. Plaintiffs retained the services of an architect to design the architectural plans, bid the project, and to oversee construction. To perform the actual work, Plaintiffs hired PJW Services (PJW).
Shortly after construction commenced, Plaintiffs noticed water leaks in their garage and brought this issue to the attention of their builder on December 12, 2010. As most contractors do, PJW assured Plaintiffs the leak was insignificant since the roof work was still ongoing. PJW further advised that once the roof was sealed, the leak would no longer be a problem. Unfortunately for Plaintiffs, that was not the case.
COVID-19 unquestionably changed the world in countless ways. One of the most significant is that it forced everyone online, from our youngest to our most elder. Those who resisted the lure of online shopping or social interactions pre-COVID were thrust into the jungle of the internet, likely forever captured by its convenience. However, modern-day conveniences are not without traps and pitfalls – enter the case of Wollen v. Gulf Stream Restoration & Cleaning, LLC, issued by the New Jersey Appellate Division on July 9, 2021.
It may come as no surprise that litigation can be costly. Many times, potential claimants seeking to temper their litigation costs look for the least expensive counsel they can find. But in the end, are litigants truly saving money by focusing on the lowest hourly rate?
Retaining the wrong attorney simply because that attorney or firm offers the lowest rates can have devastating consequences for any litigant. When your community association is seeking transition counsel, it’s critical to consider a number of factors to ensure your resources are well placed and well spent.
One of the most frequent hot button issues in condominium communities, particularly those with multi-residential buildings, is whether or not the association will pay to repair damage to a unit’s interior stemming from a defect or issue, such as a water leak, in the common elements. A condominium association has specific duties and obligations in maintaining the general common elements of the community for which it is responsible for operating and managing. These duties and obligations are not only spelled out in the association’s governing documents, but also are required by law. For instance, the New Jersey Condominium Act requires that the association “shall be responsible for” such things, including but not limited to, “[t]he maintenance, repair, replacement, cleaning and sanitation of the common elements.”
Liability insurance policies insuring sponsors, general contractors, subcontractors, and design professionals are confusing and loaded with complex terminology that make them difficult to understand. Yet, it is these policies that hold the key to the ability of a community association to recover damages from design and construction deficiencies. Rather than making your eyes glaze over by going through a lengthy analysis of the arcane language of these policies, here, in a nut shell, stripped of the legal jargon, are the basic concepts you need to know:
Stucco is a product that has been in use as an exterior building cladding since the early 1800’s. It is made from Portland cement, sand and water. When installed correctly, stucco has been a reliable building material that looks good and allows incidental moisture infiltrating behind the stucco to be safely and efficiently evacuated from the building. Once stucco dries it is as hard as concrete.
The economic situation for small businesses in America is dire. Following the widespread social distancing and stay-at-home orders, 7.5 million small businesses are now at risk of closing their doors permanently within the next several months if the coronavirus pandemic restrictions continue.
The situation has business owners searching for ways to keep their operations afloat. The CARES Act, for example, promises more small business support in its new aid package. This relief, however, has been slow to make its way to business owners.