New Jersey State Assembly Passes Bill to Protect Community Associations from COVID-19 Liability

On June 24, 2021, the New Jersey General Assembly unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to limit liability for planned real estate developments due to the spread of COVID-19, should they decide to reopen amenities like pools and fitness centers, as long as sign requirements at the entrances to the common areas are observed.

“This is a win for those homeowners associations that chose to keep communal areas closed in 2020 due to liability concerns relating to Covid-19,” said Assemblyman Brian Bergen, R-Morris, a sponsor of the Assembly version of the bill.

“My bill will allow them to open those areas at their discretion while protecting them from lawsuits should any residents or guests be exposed to or come down with the disease,” Bergen said. “Condominium and townhome residents can get back into their shared pools and gyms.”

The bill had advanced from committee after the inclusion of amendments including the warning sign provision. Those amendments await further action in the Senate.

The amendments provide that “a planned real estate development shall be immune from civil liability for damages arising from, or related to, an exposure to, or transmission of, COVID-19” as long as it has “prominently displayed” a warning sign at entryways to common property areas.

The signs must read, “Any person entering the premises waives all civil liability against the planned real estate development for damages arising from, or related to, an exposure to, or transmission of, COVID-19 on the premises, except for acts or omissions constituting a crime, actual fraud, actual malice, gross negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct.”

The amendments further provide that nothing “shall be construed to limit or modify any claim for relief under the [state’s] workers’ compensation law,” and that the bill “shall expire on the first day of calendar year 2022.”

A copy of the bill can be read here.

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