It happens every winter. The Association is hit with yet another bad snowstorm. The snow removal crew arrives early and is attempting to clear the snow faster than it falls. Meanwhile a resident has decided to take his daily constitutional around the Association. The resident slips at the end of his driveway on a patch of ice and breaks his wrist during the fall. He sues the Association and is awarded significant damages. In addition to a snow assessment to cover the unpredicted snowfall, owners can now expect increased insurance premiums due to the slip-and-fall lawsuit.

This situation occurs frequently within associations.  However, an association can protect itself from this expense by passing a Tort Immunity Amendment. A Tort Immunity Amendment helps insulate an association from liability in a lawsuit filed by one of its members for a personal injury, such as a slip-and-fall claim.  Without this amendment in place, if an owner slips and falls on the association’s common property, the association often times is held liable for damages. This expense is then passed on to all owners through increased insurance premiums.

With a Tort Immunity Amendment in place, an owner’s ability to be successful in a lawsuit against the association is limited. It is important to note that this amendment does not grant the association complete immunity to act without the potential for liability.  The association may still be held responsible for any willful, wanton or grossly negligent act or failure to act.

With the winter months quickly approaching, it is imperative to review your association’s governing documents to ensure that the association and its members are protected against personal injury claims that frequently arise during this season and the resulting expenses. If an association does not yet have tort immunity, it can adopt an amendment to its bylaws providing for such immunity. By statue, at least 2/3 of the membership must vote to approve such an amendment.

The Common Interest Community Manager Licensing Act is close to being law: What does it mean for you?  As many people already know, the Act provides for the licensing of common interest community managers, but what you may not know is that it also creates a Common Interest Community Board, provides accounting and insurance requirements and mandates continuing education.  Below are answers to a list of frequently asked questions.

Question: Who will be on the Common Interest Community Board?  The Board will consist of nine members:

  • One member from the department in the Executive Branch of State Government, appointed by the Governor;
  • Two public members appointed to represent the interests of the public; and
  • Six members who have been actively engaged in providing management services for at least five years immediately preceding their appointment (after the first Board is appointed, the six members must be licensed common interest community managers).

Question: Who does not have to be licensed? 

  • An officer or member of a community association;
  • An attorney representing an association;
  • Real estate broker, broker-salesperson or salesperson;
  • Certified public accountant, professional engineer, insurance agent or broker, or any other person in any other related profession requiring registration, certification or licensure by the State, who is acting within the scope of practice of his profession
  • An employee performing clerical or ministerial functions;
  • An employee solely performing accounting services;
  • An employee whose sole participation is to assist a common interest community manager in the preparation of budgets, financial statements or other financial reports;
  • A person who acts solely in the role of a superintendent for, or providing maintenance services to, a common interest community;
  • A person who acts as a receiver; and
  • A declarant.

Question: What are the requirements necessary to be eligible to be licensed as a common interest community manager? 

  • Be of good moral character
  • Be at least 18 years of age; and
  • Have completed a training program approved by the board and successfully passed an examination or have passed an examination that is developed in accordance with national standards accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

Question: What if I have been a manager for many years?  Do I still have to apply and meet the same standards as new managers?  For 180 days after the application process has been opened, a manager may pay a fee to the Board and submit a written application and that manager will be licensed, so long as he or she is of good moral character, has been actively engaged in providing management services for at least 12 months and successfully completes a training program and examination that is the same or substantially similar to what is required by the Act.

Question: What are the requirements for handling association funds?  The Act goes into more detail, but generally speaking, if a manager/management company controls, collects, has access to, or disburses association funds, the manager or management company (1) must have a policy of employee dishonesty insurance in place; (2) must either maintain separate, segregated accounts for each association or, with the consent of the association, combine the account of one or more associations, but separately accounts for the funds of each association; and (3) must obtain the appropriate general liability and errors and omissions insurance to cover any losses or claims against community association clients.

Question: How often do I have to renew my community interest community manager license?  All licenses shall be issued for a two-year period and shall be renewed upon filing of a renewal application within thirty days of the license expiring, the payment of a licensure fee and presentation of satisfactory evidence that the renewal applicant has successfully completed the continuing education and insurance requirements.  If the renewal application is not made within thirty days after the expiration of the license, the applicant may be required to be reexamined and may not act as a manager until licensed.

Question: What are the continuing education requirements?  The Board, once created, will establish standards for continuing education, but the number of credits will not exceed 18 credit hours biennially and at least three credit hours will be required to be in professional practice ethics.

Question: When will this Act take effect?  The Act will take effect as soon as it is signed into law, but managers will have 360 days following the creation of the Board to get licensed.

In the summer of 1981 I started reading Stephen King’s “The Stand”.  My boss had left it in my attendant’s shack at a parking lot on the corner of Ocean and Pine Avenues in Wildwood.  I didn’t get very far.  The book was scary and long.  As a sixteen-year-old at the beach, I had more fun things to think about.

Several years ago, I was talking to my elderly great aunt.  I had never known it but she told me that she had been born a twin.  She also said that her twin had died shortly after being born – a victim of the “flu”.  She said that lots of people died of the “flu” when she was young.

I later found out that my aunt had been born in 1918 and that, whether she knew it or not, the 1918 “flu” that killed her infant sister was probably the most devastating pandemic in history.  Some estimate the worldwide death toll at more than 100 million people.

Most are aware of the Ebola outbreaks in Africa.  Many are aware of the aid workers who have returned to this country and have been successfully treated. Many are probably also aware of the traveler to Texas (now deceased) who infected at least two healthcare workers there.  Probably few however are aware of Phillip Curran’s October 13, 2014 Princeton Packet article reporting that

NBC News chief medical editor and Princeton resident Nancy Snyderman and her entire news crew were put under mandatory quarantine by the state on Friday, the latest development after one of her cameramen came down with Ebola on assignment in Liberia.

Mr. Curran continued:

State health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd issued the quarantine Friday night after Ms. Snyderman was spotted Thursday in a car during a food run…in Hopewell.  She was supposed to be on a voluntary, self-confinement, officials said.

Ebola kills people.  It is contagious.  While panic is not desirable, neither is passivity in the face of such a threat.  It strains the imagination to understand why decision makers hesitate to act after such events as 9/11, the 2001 anthrax attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Hopefully Ebola will be eradicated here and elsewhere soon.  Hoping won’t get it done though.  We cannot, like sixteen-year-olds, turn away when it’s scary or daunting.  Instead, consistent with the United Nations Global Ebola Response, we must press to

  1. stop the outbreak
  2. treat the infected
  3. ensure essential services
  4. preserve stability
  5. prevent further outbreaks

Otherwise, whether caused by nature or bioterrorism, we risk another 1918; a catastrophe that would far eclipse any in the recent past.