Department of Community Affairs v. 37 South Iowa Avenue, Atlantic City

OAL Docket No. CAF 82-97 (Department of Community Affairs 1997)
  • Opinion Date: November 13, 1997

CONDOMINIUMS; MULTIPLE DWELLINGS—Even though, by terms of a master deed, a particular repair may be the responsibility of a condominium unit owner, the association is responsible under the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling law to make the repair if the unit owner doesn’t. It doesn’t matter that the unit owner is already substantially delinquent in paying assessments and other charges to the association.

A condominium association requested a hearing on an inspection report issued by the Department of Community Affairs. The association claimed the inspection was outside the scope of the permitted inspections and was therefore void. Alternatively, the association claimed it was not required to replace windows, window sills or the surrounding woodwork in a particular unit, as required by the inspection report, since those violations pertained exclusively to that unit. The association also argued that it would not recover the cost from the unit owner if it were to make the window repairs, since the association already had $20,000.00 of liens against the unit owner and a separate suit pending.

After finding that the inspection was properly conducted, the Office of Administrative Law cited a provision of the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law stating that building owners may not be relieved of liability by the terms of any lease or contract. The association was ultimately responsible for remedying this municipal violation since it was the “building owner.” However, the by-laws of the association impose the responsibility and cost of repair of the windows on the unit owner, and permit the association to do the work and charge the unit owner if he or she fails to perform the work. The judge concluded that the unit owner had to make the repairs, but that the association had to make them if the unit owner failed to, even though the judge agreed that any amount billed to the unit owner would only add to the association’s lien.