Q&A: Census Consensus

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Q. My HOA sends out an annual census questionnaire asking for a lot of personal data, stating that it “is requested once a year as a requirement by the State of New Jersey.” We live in an adult community and as such, had to document our age upon purchasing our home; no one under 19 is allowed to reside in our community.

If this is true, what is the minimum amount of personal data that I must provide? Our POS makes no mention of an annual census requirement.

                                              —Is This Legit?

A. “When you purchased your home,” answers Ross Childs, associate at Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi in Roseland, “you had to document that you were in compliance with the age-restricted community, which is required under NJ Rev Stat § 45:22A-46.2 (2022). The law states that purchasers of homes in an age-restricted community are required to certify that the home will be occupied by a person of age that ensures compliance with the “housing for older persons” exception from the federal ‘Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988.’

“To fully answer this question, we would need information regarding exactly what information you are being asked to provide. You should ask your HOA (or its manager) what annual census requirement they are referring to, evidence substantiating that it is a governmental requirement, and to send you a copy of it so you can see what the HOA is allegedly required to report on. 

“On top of asking your HOA those questions, there are a few things to look into that could potentially answer why you are being asked for this information. For example, one thing to consider is if the developer still retains an interest in the community. If so, the developer is required to file an Annual Report every year pursuant to N.J.A.C § 5:26-2.13. In this certification, if the project is an age-restricted community, the developer needs to provide a copy of a verification of compliance. Additionally, pursuant to NJ Rev Stat § 45:22A-10 (2022), within 30 years of each anniversary date of registering ‘senior citizens’ subdivided lands,’ the subdivider must file a report that reflects material changes from the original statement of record. Depending on the information being asked of you, it could be possible that the information the HOA is asking for is related to this Annual Report.

“You should also consult your HOA’s governing documents. While you mention the ‘POS’ makes no mention of an annual census requirement, other documents including the master deed and bylaws may make mention of an annual census requirement for the community.

“Before you provide any personal or sensitive information to the HOA, take precautions. Satisfy yourself that the data will be stored securely, for how long it will be maintained, and that access is appropriately limited and restricted.”

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