The Historic Radburn Assn case: undemocratic HOA governance

On November 18, 2009 the NJ appellate court once again heard legal arguments in regard to constitutional protections for homeowners in homeowners associations.  This time it was Moore v. Radburn (NJ Appellate Court, Part F, A -004284-07-T2) deciding on universal suffrage for all owners, fair and just elections, and board transparency including financial disclosures.  In 2007 the NJ appellate court had ruled on such issues in the CBTR v. Twin Rivers case that went on to the NJ supreme court on certain issues. (See Rutgers Journal articles on HOAs and Twin Rivers case).

The attorneys for the homeowners were Frank Askin, of the Rutgers Constitutional Law Clinic, and ACLU, both involved in the Twin Rivers litigation.  Renée Steinhagen of the NEW JERSEY APPLESEED PUBLIC INTEREST LAW CENTER was co-counsel for the homeowners.

Essentially, the homeowners argued that,

There is little doubt that PREDFDA [NJ statutes] was designed, consistent with the common law governing servitudes, to safeguard the ability of all homeowners in a given community to have the power through political processes to control the actions of the association. It is therefore inconsistent with PREDFDA for an “exclusive club of current and former trustees” (Pa1052) to do what they like with community resources regardless of the will of the majority, and never have to face an election in which people with different views might be elected.

Similarly, within the context of a common interest community such as Radburn, a “fair and reasonable” nomination process under N.J.S.A. 15A:5-20(e) must be one that protects homeowners from arbitrary, retaliatory or unfair treatment by a board; which, like a local government, has the power to assess homeowners, make rules governing behavior within the community, and enforce such rules with fines and other penalties.

While this summary is only 6 pages, please read the very important arguments in the two briefs for the homeowners in democracy.

Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 6:02 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The Appellate Court wrote members are not synonymous with homeowners, unless the Legislature says so. Woe to all HOA’s with power-hungry boards; now they can declare themselves tyrants for life, or until their bank forecloses.

  2. You must also consider that few if any homebuyers knew that they could only be nominated for the board by the small clique in charge. Even a prominent land-use attorney in the area closed on homes without ever seeing the bylaws. The association has not filed its bylaws with the master deed and does make them freely available to this day, perferring to drag it out until the court has ruled.

  3. can hoa fine a homeowner for parking on his driveway

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