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Tai v. Crown View Manor I Condominium Association

A-2196-08T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2010) (Unpublished)

CONDOMINIUMS —A condominium association might not be able to require unit owners to explain the reasons behind a document requests.

A condominium development was managed by an association with a records access policy. A unit owner sued, alleging that the resolution impermissibly restricted the owner’s access to the condominium association’s records. The association denied access because the unit owner did not explain why it was seeking the document. In the instant case, the unit owner made approximately fifty requests for document access.

The lower court dismissed the complaint but, on appeal, the Appellate Division remanded the matter to the lower court to make specific findings as to the reasonableness of the resolutions procedures that did not mirror those it deemed reasonable as set forth in Mulligan v. Panther Valley Prop. Owners Ass’n. On remand, the lower court held that the unit owner had been provided with all requested records that it was entitled under the resolution. The lower court also concluded that the resolution was reasonable on its face and not unduly restrictive of a unit owner’s access to the association’s records. The unit owner appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed. While agreeing that most of the provisions contained in the resolution mirrored those cited approvingly in Mulligan, the Court questioned the requirement that homeowners include an explanation of their purpose for the document request. However, here, there was nothing in the record to indicate that this condition was ever enforced against this particular unit owner. Moreover, the association represented that the challenged resolution was replaced with a new resolution, passed subsequent to the remand, and it did not contain a requirement that an explanation accompany the access request. Accordingly, the Court held that even if it was unreasonable to require such an explanation, that policy had not been enforced against the unit owner and no longer existed. It also noted that the homeowner’s association in Mulligan had permitted inspection of documents going back for two years rather than the one year period permitted under the association’s resolution. This association, however, advised the lower court that its document retention policy extended beyond one year and that notwithstanding the limited time period during which the resolution mandated that documents be maintained, the unit owner acknowledged that he received all requested documents and currently had access to the association’s records, including its bank statements.

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