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Thursday, January 26, 2012

BELL TOWER CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION VS. PAT HAFFERT A-3218-10T2

BELL TOWER CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION VS. PAT HAFFERT           A-3218-10T2 
     Although a portion of the Condominium Act (Act) requires condominium associations to establish a "fair and efficient procedure for the resolution of housing-related disputes" between individual unit owners and the association, or between unit owners, "as an alternative to litigation," the Act does not define the term "housing-related disputes" contained in N.J.S.A. 46:8B-14(k).  Because the long-established public policy of this State favors alternative dispute resolution, and because the Legislature chose broad and unconditional language when it required the arbitration of "housing-related disputes," we construe the term broadly.  We hold that "housing-related disputes" refers to any dispute arising directly from the condominium relationship.  Without limitation, our opinion provides examples of disputes that would not be "housing- related," such as automobile accidents in the condominium parking lot, crimes committed by one unit owner against another, or a commercial dispute arising from a failed business venture between two unit owners.  01-12-12