New Jersey's Common-Interest Homeowners Coalition Grassroots Governance

While day-to-day life in a suburban homeowners association may seem simpler and less complicated than negotiating the sometimes-turbulent waters of an urban co-op or condo community, association members and directors have plenty of need for a voice, both in dealing with their own boards and management representatives, and in the halls of local and state governance. The Common-Interest Homeowners Coalition (C-IHC) of New Jersey is a not-for-profit group dedicated to gathering strength in numbers and giving voice to the concerns of homeowners in New Jersey's residential associations.

On a Mission, With a Purpose

The mission of the C-IHC is to serve as the independent voice for homeowners in New Jersey residential community associations, to promote and strengthen democratic governance, and to advance the general welfare of homeowners. As an independent organization composed of owners of homes in common-interest residential associations—including but not limited to condominiums, townhouses, planned unit developments, and cooperatives—the C-IHC considers that it is an independent voice for homeowners to legislators and government officials, industry practitioners, association boards, and the general public on matters directly related to residency in homeowner associations.

According to the group's literature, the fundamental governing processes at work in many HOAs and co-ops throughout New Jersey (and the rest of the country as well) are outdated, deeply flawed, and in need of overhauling.

According to Margaret Bar-Akiva, a founding member of C-IHC, as well as the group's legislative committee president, "The laws on condominiums and common interest residential associations were written in the late 1960's by developers, the FHA, and banker-lenders. They treated HOAs as property issues, not as homes that people live in. The old laws gave extensive powers to the boards who would run the associations with their hired surrogates—principally attorneys and management firms. Clearly, we needed new laws to replace the New Jersey Condominium Act, etc."

Swinging Into Action

"In 1997," Bar-Akiva continues, "the New Jersey Legislature wisely established the Assembly Task Force to Study Homeowners Associations, the members of which included three legislators, one developer's attorney, one managing agent, two CAI (Community Associations Institute) attorneys, and two members who were board members of their HOA's. The task force held hearings around the state.


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  • isn't there a new sen turner bill (2008) and how does it differ from the bill already passed by the assembly
  • I live in HOAs here in NJ and in Florida. I would rather live in a Corporation than, as you call it, a quasi-governmental community. These are not quasi and not governmental. They take on the form of acting like government, fining owners indiscriminately, and dictating unreasonable rules. They violate constitutional guarantees and rights of property owners. With corporations, it is easier to throw out the directors and demand they conform to the wishes of the owners. Government-like entities, with time, become more complicated, bureaucratic and more influenced by lawyers, politicians and vested interests, such as,community associatio managers. Either one has many faults but I would say that you are on the wrong track promoting government interferences.
  • To the above commenter, take a close look at Radburn in NJ: a "corporate" HOA where membership and nomination is limited by the sitting trustees and the court said that was all fine and dandy. Worse, the rules are hidden from propective homebuyers, unless they know where to ask. Be careful with your wishes.
  • Many Boards have for far too long been able to "govern unilaterally.” Even when by-laws provide due process to its membership, Boards circumvent this write by not writing procedures one can follow to take action. The by-law is meaningless. Our community’s Board Pres. owns a dog despite a by-law clearly saying he cannot own a dog. The NJ Dept. of Community Affairs has the power to address due process issues but ignores people who write to them. What this means is association ownership is outdated and will eventually fall. I am selling before that happens.
  • I loved my community for more than 20 years but now is a nightmare of a board gone wild. The property manager is worse than the board. Uneven enforcement of rules and rules made up out of thin air are part of the fun. Bad, bad, bad place to live.
  • Lost in Long Beach on Monday, March 10, 2014 2:07 PM
    Who protects homeowners against an HOA? My HOA hit us with a $30,000 assessment due in three $10,000 payments. The President of the Boards husband was the only contractor recommended by the Board, and the winning contractor. Apart from having a steel beam replaced, there are many cosmetic , unnecessary work that the President of the Board want done. We are a 14 unit community, and five of the units are family related. We asked the Board for an extension, while we make payments since we do not have the $30K. Their response was a lien, and now we received a $5K legal bill for them to proceed with a foreclosure. My mortgage is up to date, my HOA dues are up to date. I have contracted a lawyer, but this seems so unfair. I am still recovering from rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy. Is there any place I can get help? I have already contacted the State Attorney General's office. They do not help communities that are not sponsor owned. I have contacted every politician in Nassau County, and Long Beach, and no one can help. Are homeowners at the mercy of an HOA gone wild? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
  • I bought my first condo in belleville 4 years ago and the nightmare started. I had water leaks in my 2nd BR whenever it rained or snowed heavily. I contacted my PM but she was not very responsive and kept trying to put the blame on the leak coming from my laundry room. Finally one of the board members who lived in my building made them look into the leak, fix it and fix the inside of my condo. FF 6 mths down the road and the leaks started up again. during the time it stopped leaking, i rented my place out bec. i got married. now for the last 6 months every time it snowed and everytime it rains both bedrooms leak around the window and from the ceiling in the middle of both rooms. my poor tenants have a 8 month old baby and have to come to this nonsense every few days. they are looking to break the lease because of this and my PM keeps sending the roofer to clean the gutters. this is not the issue. there aren't proper weeping holes around the window and the water has nowhere to go but inside (that's what one of the contractors that came in suspected). I don't know what to do as my property is getting damaged and nothing is being done. can someone please help...please point me in the right direction. my husband and i both have lost our jobs and getting an attorney is not affordable at the moment but if i have to i will. thank you!
  • Our Condo was destroyed by water damage from a 2 pipe bursting above us. It has been almost 2 months and we still.not have recieved money from condo asociation who has taken responsibility for all our damages.Farmers who is our insurance company turned our claim down saying they do not cover slow leaks ,but an insurance adjuster firm hired by the condo association said thier was four condos destroyed by water at a high rate of speed pouring into our unite and others.This was not a slow leak as Farmers used to denie our claim
  • Regarding HOA and Board of Trustees elections, the community bylaws do not adhere to the NJ Guidelines for Elections in Common Interest Communities, specifically on who is eligible to vote. The Guidelines state that all owners of record in good standing shall be entitled to vote. The bylaws document, in fact, states the same on multiple occasions but then contradicts itself stating that only one vote is permitted per lot. The bylaws then further state that an owner is entitled one vote for each lot deeded, inferring that the lot owner is entitled to the number of votes equal to the number of lots owned. Since there are obvious conflicts in the Bylaws document would not the Guidelines for Elections in Common Interest Communities determine who is eligible to vote until the conflicts are resolved?