NJ Homeowner Associations Squeezing Residents
An increasing number of Jersey homeowner associations are routinely intimidating, harassing and fining people who live in their communities – especially the ones who have the nerve to question them about decisions they make.
Professor Frank Askin, the Director of Rutgers Litigation Clinic says, “Many associations do not have fair and open elections, and therefore people who are in dispute with the associations don’t get a fair chance to change the leadership there…the political clout belongs to what’s called the community associations institute – they have the money – they represent the management associations, the cadre of lawyers that represent the associations and the associations themselves.”
He says many associations don’t let their residents put up political signs, others refuse to allow decorations of any kind – and many groups don’t let anybody see their financial papers -they’re supposed to be available but a lot of the associations resist- people ask for these documents and they don’t get them.”
The professor says, “A lot of these places, they have these disputes, but the residents are in the dark, because they can’t get a hold of the basic documents…so we do need stronger rules to guarantee access…we need some better rules on open meetings -many times they do their real work in what they call executive sessions- to which the residents are not allowed- and then they just take a vote at the open meeting and nobody knows what’s going on behind the scenes.”
He adds, “You know it’s always been said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely…there are fifty-thousand of these associations – and a lot of them are run fine -but some of them – you get people in power- they go power crazy… it’s an unfair system – it’s weighted against residents, and in favor of the management associations, and the association themselves.”