TRENTON, N.J. – The state Assembly passed legislation Thursday protecting homeowners from voluntary associations that try to impose mandatory fees on all residents, regardless of membership.
The bill (S908/A2480), sponsored Assemblyman Hal Wirths and Holly Schepisi and co-sponsored by Assemblyman Parker Space, bans associations or clubs from compelling non-members to pay fees if they were not entitled to such payments prior to July 13, 2017. Sen. Steve Oroho sponsored the bill in the Senate.
“Homeowners who purchase a property that isn’t part of a community association shouldn’t have to fear surprise assessments and compulsory fees,” said Wirths (R-Sussex). “You can’t change the rules in the middle of the game, and that’s exactly what some communities have tried to do.”
“If you purchased a home never receiving the benefit or knowledge of an association, you shouldn’t be liable years down the road to pay their fees,” said Schepisi (R-Bergen). “This law is about fairness.”
The legislation helps clarify the 2017 Radburn law that defined homeowner association members as owners of units within a planned real estate development. After the law passed, some historically voluntary homeowner associations and clubs reasoned they now had the ability to require all residents in the area to pay dues even if they were not members.
“The 2017 law did not change the rules for owners who weren’t already members of an association or planned community,” said Oroho (R-Sussex). “This bill provides a homeowner the protection from being charged association fees that weren’t disclosed in one’s deed.”
The bill is retroactive to July 13, 2017, the date the Radburn law passed, so that it applies to communities that tried to compel payments by changing their bylaws. It also nullifies any lien that was placed on an owner for non-payment of such a charge.
“Homeowner associations that never had the authority to mandate non-members pay assessments would not lose anything. Voluntary associations and clubs would remain just that, voluntary,” said Space (R-Sussex).
The bill would not apply to property owners who are part of planned real estate developments with master deeds that have always required owners to pay certain fees and dues for maintenance and support of common areas.
While the Senate unanimously passed it in February, the bill now heads back to that house to concur with Assembly amendments.