Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Eustace to improve voting participation rights for residents in housing associations was unanimously approved by the full Assembly on Monday.
“New Jersey has an abundance of planned real estate developments that are presided over by an association that is responsible for making major decisions that affect the entire housing community, decisions on matters such as costs, maintenance, and use of common areas and facilities,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This legislation will ensure fairness in the voting process so that more residents’ voices are heard and represented.”
The bill was inspired by a 2006 lawsuit brought forth by residents of Radburn – a planned community in Fair Lawn that dates back to 1929 – who argued that the current system whereby nominees to six of the nine board seats are chosen by the sitting trustees was unconstitutional. While the courts ultimately found that Radburn’s system of governance was legal, this bill would remedy incongruities raised by residents in the lawsuit.
Specifically, the bill (A-4091) would enhance resident voting participation rights by granting voting eligibility to association members and voting eligible tenants, meaning more than one person per unit could potentially have voting rights. However, the voting influence, as stated in the bill, would not be altered by the number of association members and voting-eligible tenants connected to the unit.
Additionally, the bill would ensure sufficient notice of executive board elections. The legislation also lays out various guidelines for association bylaws to help ensure election fairness and increase voter participation.
The measure now heads back to the Senate for final legislative approval.