Associations all across the country continue to suffer from the consequences and effects of abandoned units.  Whether it is the ‘spillover’ effect, as studied by entities such as the United States Federal Reserve Bank, the water and/or other damages cause to other units and/or common elements, or any other number of maladies, abandoned units continue to plague our communities.  In an attempt to minimize those effects, a New Jersey municipality recently adopted an ordinance expressly compelling owners of vacant and abandoned properties to maintain them.  Hamilton Township, New Jersey provides for an annual penalty of $250.00, per a violation.   The ordinance also requires the unit owner to even engage a management company to maintain the unit and/or property if it is otherwise not done.

This ordinance seems targeted to lenders and other institutions that own abandoned units, as they would be influenced by the possibility of penalties further eroding whatever value remains, and would likely be seeking a sale of the unit in order to generate whatever return they can.  A regular unit owner comfortable with the inevitable loss of the unit, and without assets or income, would seem unimpressed with this ordinance.   It remains to be seen what effect, if any, this will have upon the lender’s diligence in prosecuting (or not) its foreclosure.

The ordinance can be found and reviewed at: 

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/filestorage/83868/83968/97152/99046/Ordinance_12-042.pdf