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Can a Board of Trustees Amend Bylaws without a Vote of Unit Owners?

amend bylaws

The simple answer is yes – with two caveats. Community Association Board Members located In New Jersey may amend the association’s bylaws without a vote of the unit owners under two circumstances.

Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA) provisions apply to trustee elections and certain by-laws amendment procedures. This may be convenient for an association that needs by-laws amendments to operate more efficiently, but cannot get unit owners to vote.

However, there are only two circumstances where a community association board can amend bylaws unilaterally:

  1. To amend the bylaws to make them comply with state, federal or local law, or
  2. By providing both a notice of the proposed amendment, and a rejection ballot to all unit owners. If at least 10% of the unit owners vote to reject the amendment within 30 days of its mailing, the amendment is defeated. However, if less than 10% of the unit owners return rejection ballots within 30 days of its mailing, the amendment becomes valid.

This does not apply to amendments of the master deed or declaration. As is the norm, any change to an existing law – even if the change is inconsistent with the association bylaws – determines if the bylaws comply with the law in question as described in item one above.  In other words, the bylaws are superseded by state, federal, or local laws.

Some boards may find this type of amendment process can add clarity to the bylaws and bring them in alignment with current law. Your association attorney can guide you.

Back Story

This law is a result of the Radburn Association, a community that lacked bylaws mandating fair and open trustee elections. Consequently, a new law was enacted in New Jersey amending the PREDFDA creating provisions that apply to trustee elections and certain bylaw amendment procedures. They also permit an association’s board of trustees to amend the association’s bylaws without a vote of the unit owners.

Read the full text of the PREDFDA amendment here.

If you have questions about your bylaws being in keeping with New Jersey law, please contact a Radom & Wetter attorney at 908-707-1500.

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