To quote a legal scholar, “The condominium is …an ongoing, open, experiment in group living.” It brings diverse owners together and imposes on them the difficult task of living harmoniously in close quarters with one another, while assuming a collective responsibility of managing the common areas for everyone’s benefit. A condominium can either reflect participatory democracy at its best or a plague of competing self‐interests at its worst.

Condominiums parallel every other town, county, or state in having a uniform set of ordinances, rules, and laws. As you would familiarize yourself with them to find if they would pose tolerable restrictions on your “way of life” before you consider moving to a town, so would it be with a condominium community. In each case, choosing to live in any community brings with it an obligation to obey its rules and laws.    



The creation of condominiums is governed state law (N.J.S.A. 46:8B-8 et seq.). It is one of a number of property regimes deemed “common interest communities (CIC).”  When you purchase a condominium, you own fully (in fee simple) a condominium unit and a shared percentage interest (1.042%) in the “common elements.” It is this common property interest which distinguishes condominiums from HOAs and Co-Ops.

Although the “common elements” are defined by law (N.J.S.A. 46:8B-6), they vary according to the Master Deed. In general, they consist of all structural parts of the buildings, roofs, lawns, walkways, parking lots, private roads, trees, shrubs, and all other parts of the improved condominium property. “Limited common elements” are those structures of the buildings and grounds which are limited in use to the unit owners to which they are attached, such as balconies and finished patio areas.

When the condominium is established by the filing of the Master Deed, a not for profit corporation is formed by filing a “Certificate of Incorporation” with the state. That corporation is the Pond Meadows Condominium Association, Inc. which is responsible for attending to the common elements and their improvement. Each owner of a unit is also is a “member” of the Association with voting rights as set forth in the Association’s By-Laws. The Association’s business is administered by a Board of Trustees elected by the members.

The responsibilities of owners for improvements, replacements, and repairs are outlined by the Master Deed, Paragraph 9, as incident to unit ownership. At Pond Meadows, owners are, at their sole cost and expense, responsible for the “repairs and replacements of the plumbing fixtures and systems, heating and air conditioning systems, windows, doors, skylights, patios, decks, stairways, electrical systems and receptacles, breaker boxes, kitchen appliances and equipment, and lighting fixtures within any unit or part of the common elements appurtenant thereto…”

The Board of Trustees is authorized to “carry out the purposes of the Association, as embodied in the Certificate of Incorporation, , the Master Deed, and the By-Laws” and to “enforce compliance with the Master Deed” and with such rules and regulations related to the use and occupancy of the units and the common elements. (By-Laws, Article III, Section 9).

The Master Deed is the instrument which creates the condominium in accordance with state law, which defines the tract of land on which the condominium complex is to be built, and which establishes the permitted use of the land by all people lawfully on it. The Master Deed and its contents must be approved by the Township of Mahwah through its planning and zoning boards after extensive public hearings upon proper notices to neighboring and other municipal landowners for commentary. It is the Township which has the final authority to impose restrictions on the use of the land within its borders consistent with the longer range but local municipal planning objectives. The Master Deed for Pond Meadows is filed with the Bergen County Clerk in Deed Book 6944 Page 509 (August 16, 1985).

Real estate covenants in the Master Deed establish conditions and legal obligations imposed on owners and others using the land. They apply to all people who find themselves physically on the property. These deed restrictions “run with the land” and are enforceable on all future buyers and successors. Restrictions are listed explicitly in the Master Deed (Paragraph 12) (see “Policies & Restrictions” on this website) and set forth what people on the land can or cannot legally do when on it. The Board of Trustees of the Association is entrusted with enforcing such restrictions.

The Master Deed establishes the criteria in Paragraph 18 for its own amendment – including changes to any of the covenants and restrictions. What is required is a vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the unit owners (which at Pond Meadows would be sixty four affirmative votes out of ninety six), and approval by fifty-one percent (51%) of such “banks, mortgage bankers, eligible mortgage holders or other institutional lenders of a first mortgage lien on any unit,” and approvals by the Township of Mahwah through its planning and zoning boards, as the law may require.

The documents which govern the condominium, the scope of authority of the Association and its Board of Trustees, the property interests of individual owners, the covenants and restrictions on the use of the units and the common elements, and other conduct on the property are the By-Laws, the Master Deed, the Certificate of Incorporation, and any other published rules, regulations, or laws which may apply.

The Board of Trustees is entrusted with enforcing the provisions of the governing documents and to the maintenance, care, and improvement of the common elements. The Board establishes policy, authorizes expenditures, draws an annual budget, determines the monthly maintenance fees, and approves the hiring of vendors, contractors, and professionals to carry out the operational purposes of its charge.

The Association, through its Board, normally hires a professional property management company to review bids for services, to secure vendors and contractors to carry out projects and services, to collect fees and assessments, to pay bills, to produce monthly financial statements, to research insurance coverage and to process claims, to respond to work and repair requests from owners, to oversee contract vendors such as landscape and snow removal contractors, to inspect and to maintain the common elements, and to handle emergency situations, among others.

The property management company is an agent of the Board and does not have any independent authority to set policy or to hire vendors without the approval of the Board.

The Board of Trustees of the Pond Meadows Condominium Association consists of a minimum of five (5) elected members (By-Laws, Article III, Section 2), each for three (3) year terms. An amendment to the By-Laws was properly enacted in March, 2015 limiting the terms of Board members to no more than six (6) years of service within a nine year period (Amendment, By-Laws, Article III, Section 3, March 2015). Board members can be removed from office with or without good cause by a vote of two thirds (2/3) of the membership of the Association, or for good cause by a majority vote of the Trustees (By-Laws, Article III, Section 6).

The Association established, through the Board of Trustees, an annual budget for the costs of services and the expenses related to the maintenance and improvement of the common elements. Since the Association is a not for profit business, the owners fund the annual budget with maintenance fees to be used for the benefit of the community. The budget may increase from year to year, depending upon the increased costs for vendors and services. An owner’s share of the expenses is proportional to the property interest held, which for a single unit owner at Pond Meadows would be 1/96th of the whole, charged in monthly installments.

In the most recent budget, the maintenance fees were allocated generally as follows: 20% for administrative expenses (insurance, management fees, legal services, etc.), 55% for grounds and building maintenance (water and sewer costs, landscaping services, snow removal, building repair and improvement, electric and other utilities), and 25% for contribution to a reserve and deferred maintenance fund.

Assessments are periodic charges made in addition to maintenance fees in response to extraordinary, unbudgeted, costs, such as for unforeseen expenses in maintenances, to underwrite planned projects when they are undertaken, to replenish long term reserves or deferred maintenance (roofs, walkways, etc.), and similar circumstances. Assessments are made proportional to the property interest held.

Unpaid maintenance and assessment fees are charged as debts against the unit, not the owner, and, after required legal processes, will constitute liens attached to the property. The Association, as the creditor, has a number of lawful remedies to enforce collection, including actions against the property.

Both the New Jersey Condominium Act, N.J.S.A. 46:8B-1 et seq., and the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA), N.J.S.A. 45:22A-21 et seq., require associations to provide a “fair and efficient” alternative to litigation for unit owners to resolve "housing related" (meaning not personal but related directly to association living) disputes between one another or with the association. Pond Meadows Condominiums has in place an Alternative Dispute Resolution policy and a body of uniform procedures (see “Policies and Restrictions”). The ADR Committee independently reviews petitions and makes recommendations for action to the Board of Trustees to resolve the issues presented.

Yes. All contractors performing any work in the units must be licensed under state law and carry insurance. Before any work is commenced, notice must be given to the property manager along with the license number and certificate of insurance. If municipal permits are required, they must be issued and posted before work is begun. Unit owners bear sole and full responsibility for failure to comply with municipal codes and ordinances and with Association policies.

While condominium communities carry a master insurance policy which covers items such as the actual building in which you reside, all of the common area elements, and provides worker compensation for those employed by the association (if any), it is also required that owners carry their own property and liability insurance for their unit. Master insurance policies typically stop at the four exterior walls of your unit. This means that not only are your personal contents not insured by the master association policy, neither are any of the items within the four walls of your unit: cabinets, appliances, flooring, and other interior contents. Further, unit owners may have individual liability due to negligence, fire, or water damage – and may be held liable for adjoining unit damage caused by a problem originating in their own unit. Insurance policies for condominium units are called H-O6 policies.  Such policies are required for all unit owners under the governing documents.

 The use and storage of all LP-gas barbecue grills, outdoor fireplaces, torches, charcoal grills, including hibachis, or any other “open flame” cooking device, of any size, are banned and prohibited in, on, or near any Pond Meadows Condominiums grounds, buildings, or property (Resolution, August 22, 2016). This prohibition promotes the general welfare of residents and protects their dwellings from the fire hazards such devices pose.

(See also for further information the Master Deed, Paragraph 12 (h), and the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code, N.J.A.C. 5:70-3.1(a), F-402.)



All waste disposal on condominium grounds must conform to the requirements of the Township of Mahwah (Ordinance #1193 Section 1. 15-7.1B) and the rules for disposal of household items, appliances, electronics, and hazardous waste set forth by the Mahwah Department of Public Works (contact the solid waste contractor, Suburban Disposal, at (973) 227-7020)) and the Bergen County Utilities Authority at (201) 641-2552. Improper disposal of furniture, appliances, electronics, or other items for which special disposal rules apply shall result in fines imposed by the Association.