Bill protecting homeowners groups from Covid-19 liabilities advances

Bill protecting homeowners groups from Covid-19 liabilities advances

Brian Bergen

TRENTON, N.J. – A bipartisan bill that would protect homeowners associations from civil lawsuits against Covid-19 exposure or transmission was released from two Assembly committees Wednesday.

Assemblyman Brian Bergen signed on as primary sponsor to the Democrat-led bill, crafted by fellow Assemblymen Vincent Mazzeo and John Armato.

“Many homeowner associations chose to keep communal areas closed in 2020 due to liability concerns relating to Covid-19. This bill would allow them to open those areas at their discretion while protecting them from lawsuits should any residents or guests be exposed to or come down with the disease,” Bergen (R-Morris) said.

Most insurance policies held by associations exclude coverage for communicable disease outbreaks, which could make opening common areas a costly mistake. The bill (A4979) would protect associations only against claims of negligence, a move the Community Associations Institute of New Jersey supports.

“Condominium and townhome residents want to get back into their shared pools and gyms. This gives associations some peace of mind doing that,” Bergen added.

The bill, however, would not provide immunity for “acts or omissions constituting a crime, actual fraud, actual malice, gross negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct.”

“This is a common sense piece of legislation that shows the people of New Jersey what good can happen when Republicans and Democrats work together,” Bergen concluded. “I didn’t hesitate to support it.”

Both the Assembly Appropriations and Community Development and Affairs committees advanced the bill. The Senate version (S3584) passed June 3.