DENVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Residents of a private community in New Jersey are refusing to pay liens on their homes – for dues they say they should not have to pay in the first place.
Linda McKenna bought her Morris County home more than 30 years ago. It’s within the private
Rainbow Lakes community located between Route 46 and Route 80 in Denville – made up of 330 homes.
The community has an association that was once voluntary to join, but things changed in 2017.
“The Rainbow Lakes community has been voluntary membership community for 95 years. There’s nothing in writing, nothing in our deeds, nothing in their deed that states we need to pay for a lake, a bar, and a clubhouse that we don’t use,” McKenna said.
Since McKenna did not pay the $425 a year association fee, the group put a lien on her property which now affects her credit rating.
She is not alone. There are 29 other residents in this community are also refusing to pay.
“I’m angry, very angry… I can’t even see the lake from my home but you want me to pay,” Lisa Brink said.
Board president Charles Damian claims it doesn’t matter if you can’t see the lake.
“If we don’t maintain our community and the sites on which our homes are situated we all lose our most valuable asset… it depreciates,” Damian explained.
Local property taxes do not go towards the upkeep of this private community.
“We have six lakes to maintain. We have a clubhouse, sport facilities… unfortunately they all require work. They don’t take care of themselves,” Damian added.
Recently laws changed to make sure every homeowner had a say, but some associations started requiring dues for that.
Now there is a bill to correct this.
“If a homeowner bought a home decades ago and there’s nothing in the deed that says they have to be member of the association… pay dues to the association… then they don’t have to pay,” Assemblyman Jay Webber said.
Gov. Murphy won’t approve that law unless it ensures general taxpayers don’t have to pick up the lake maintenance tab.
Assemblyman Webber is advising residents to hold off paying the lien and association dues until his bill is revised and passed. He added that the liens are unlawful.