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John S. Prisco is a member of Stark & Stark’s Construction Litigation Group. He concentrates his practice in the representation of complex construction litigation claims. His clients include condominiums and community associations, commercial and industrial property owners, homeowners and developers.

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.


Continue Reading Construction Defects and New Jersey’s Statute of Limitations – When to File Suit

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.

Continue Reading Read Before You Proceed – A Cautionary Tale at the Crossroads of Technology and Construction

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.


Continue Reading The Dollars and Sense of Transition Litigation – Retaining the Right Counsel

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.”

Continue Reading The Common Element Conundrum – When Common Elements Damage Unit Interiors

COVID-19 is the singular topic currently dominating everyone’s lives and thoughts worldwide. Each passing day new information is revealed, as more questions arise. What is this virus? Where did it come from? Is it okay to drink wine this early in the day? And, most importantly, how can we protect our staff and community from the continued spread of this virus?

Continue Reading COVID-19: Protecting Your Staff and Community

It’s that moment that no homeowner wants to have. You just returned from vacation and were in the midst of stowing the suitcases under the house in your crawlspace. As you were exiting the crawlspace, something caught your eye—a wet spot on the concrete slab floor. It wasn’t a puddle, but it was clearly moisture.

Hoping for something minor, you began to poke around. During your search, you discovered that a portion of insulation in between the floor boards was soaked. While you removed what you thought was the problem, you saw a water leak dripping down a vertical pipe in between your walls.

Unfortunately, every homeowner will have to deal with a situation like this at one time or another. Fortunately, we have insurance for these very situations, however, knowing what to do and how to handle this situation will make a world of difference to both your mental health and to your wallet.


Continue Reading Dealing with the Unexpected: Filing an Insurance Claim

Having construction work or renovations done on your home is certainly an exciting, but undoubtedly stressful time. In fact, the process from selecting a suitable (and experienced) contractor to completion of the project can be downright daunting at times. As a homeowner myself, who coincidentally is going through this very process as we speak, I know the difficulties of sifting through countless potential contractors, negotiating prices, and coordinating schedules and the like. As daunting as it may seem, there are certain steps a homeowner can take at the outset that will mitigate potential pitfalls during construction, ensure your project is constructed properly, mitigate construction disputes, and alleviate unnecessary stress.

Continue Reading How You Can Mitigate Construction Disputes with Contractors

Read the first part of this article here.

You’re in your car heading home when you turn into your condominium development. That road you just entered, it’s a common element. On your route to your unit you pass by the club house and community pool— these are common elements as well. You’re finally home as you pull into your driveway—which, by the way, probably isn’t a common element, but rather most likely a limited common element. You enter your unit. In the case of a condominium, does your unit qualify as a common element, limited common element, or strictly unit owner property? The answer, in fact, is that the unit you just entered is likely a combination of all three. This article will take a closer look at this distinction.

A typical condominium development is comprised of numerous structures that usually include the building or buildings that house individual condominium units, more often than not a club house as well as other lands and improvements such as community pools, fitness centers, playgrounds, etc. These buildings, lands and improvements can be classified as common elements, limited common elements, or unit property. When you purchase a unit in a condominium development, you are in fact not only purchasing ownership rights to a particular unit, but are also acquiring an interest in the common elements and limited common elements. So, what are these common and limited common elements and how do they differ from unit property?


Continue Reading The Need-to-Knows of Living in a Condominium Development – Part Two: Common and Limited Common Elements versus Unit property in Condominiums

Pursuant to the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (“PREDFDA”), N.J.S.A. §45:22A-21 et seq., a developer of a proposed condominium development that is subject to the registration requirements of PREDFDA must establish an association responsible for the management of the common elements and facilities of the proposed condominium development. N.J.S.A. §45:22A-43. The developer is required to organize the association prior to the filing of the master deed or declaration of covenants and restrictions. The association may be established as a for-profit or nonprofit corporation, unincorporated association, or any other form permitted by law.

No matter the nature of the association, its responsibility is the same – “the administration and management of the condominium and condominium property, including but not limited to the conduct of all activities of common interest to the unit owners.” New Jersey Condominium Act (the “Condo Act”), N.J.S.A. §46:8B-12. The powers of the association are vested in an executive board that is tasked with carrying out the responsibilities of the association. Upon the formation of the association, the developer will appoint representatives to sit on the executive board and carry out the duties of the association. However, as the developer begins to sell units in the condominium development, pursuant to PREDFDA and the Condo Act, the developer is required to surrender control of the executive board to unit owners elected by the members of the association. This process is known as “transition.”

PREDFDA and the Condo Act require that no later than 60 days after the sale of 25% of the “lots, parcels, units or interests, not fewer than 25 percent of the members of the executive board shall be elected by the owners.” N.J.S.A. §45:22A-47; see also N.J.S.A. §46:8B-12.1. Once the developer sells 50% of the units, etc., within 60 days thereafter 40% of the membership of the executive board is to be comprised of unit owners elected by the owners. Final transition, and complete surrender of the executive board by the developer to the unit owners, occurs once the developer has sold 75% of the units in the development.


Continue Reading The Passing of the Torch – Transition of Control of a Condominium Association from the Developer to Unit Owners