Category Archives: New Jersey Legislation

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Undisclosed Defects In A Real Estate Sale?

The common law doctrine of nullum tempus occurrit regi roughly translates to “no time run against the king.” In the past, that doctrine was enforced when courts determined whether government agencies were barred by the same statutes of limitations as private citizens when bringing claims for undisclosed defects in a real estate sale. However, this principle has since been limited by the statute of limitations for governmental bodies to bring claims.

N.J.S.A. 2A: 14-1.1 (“the statute”) was enacted in the 1960s to limit the potential liability to which architects and building contractors, among others, were increasingly subject. Rosenberg v. North Bergen, 61 N.J. 190, 194 (1972). Its purpose was to define substantive rights for these professionals, such as the right not to have to have to defend ancient claims or obligations. Cyktor v. Aspen Manor Condominium Ass’n¸359 N.J. Super. 459 (App. Div. 2003). The statute was designed so as to provide “repose” for such professionals from all claims arising out of construction or design defects of a hazardous nature ten years after the work was completed.

In 1995, the court found that the nullum tepus doctrine did not apply to the state or its agencies. State v. Cruz Constr. Co, 279 N.J. Super. 241 (App. Div. 1995). Cruz, as well as other similar decisions, prompted the state legislature to amend the statute in order to clarify that it was meant to apply to claims by both private citizens as well as government agencies.

The statute reads: “No action, whether in contract, tort, or otherwise, to recover damages for any deficiency…shall be brought against any person performing or furnishing the design…to real property, more than 10 years after the performance or furnishing of such services and construction. This limitation shall serve as a bar to all such actions, both governmental and private, but shall not apply to actions against any person in actual possession and control as owner, tenant, or otherwise, of the improvement at the time the defective and unsafe condition of such improvement constitutes the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which the action is brought.” N.J.S.A. 2A: 14-1.1

The amendment also enumerates four governmental actions that the statute does not bar. Id. at 14-1.1(b). The statute does not bar an action by a governmental unit:

1) on a written warranty, guaranty or other contract that expressly provides for a longer effective period;

2) based on willful misconduct, gross negligence or fraudulent concealment in connection with performing or furnishing the design, planning, supervision or construction of an improvement to real property;

3) under any environmental remediation law or pursuant to any contract entered into by a governmental unit in carrying out its responsibilities under any environmental remediation law; or

4) pursuant to any contract for application, enclosure, removal or encapsulation of asbestos.

Id. at 14-1.1(b).

The statute defines “governmental” as “the state, its political subdivisions, any office, department, division, bureau, board, commission or public authority or public agency of the state or one of its political subdivisions, including but not limited to, a county or a municipality and any board, commission, committee, authority or agency which is not a State board, commission, committee, authority or agency.” Id. at 14-1.1(c).

Comments/Questions: gdn@gdnlaw.com

© 2012 Nissenbaum Law Group, LLC

New Jersey Municipal Mechanics’ Lien Law

It is well established that a subcontractor may recover against a public agency even though there is no direct contractual relationship between the parties. Accordingly where either a contractor or a subcontractor performs work with respect to public improvements and is due and owing money for supplies and services furnished, it is entitled to file a lien against the public agency or municipality to recover the amount owed. However, in order to do so, the contractor or subcontractor must first comply with certain procedures.

Specifically, under the New Jersey Municipal Mechanics’ Lien Law, in order to perfect a lien, a contractor or subcontractor must file written notice that it performed work or delivered materials to a subcontractor within 20 days of first performing such work or delivering such materials. This notice must be filed with the appropriate designated official for the public agency. Where a notice of delivery is not filed, the courts will not recognize a valid lien.

In addition, the New Jersey Municipal Mechanics’ Lien Law requires that a contractor or subcontractor file a notice of lien with a designated individual of the public agency either prior to the work to being “completed or accepted by resolution of the public agency” or within sixty (60) days thereafter. The notice of lien must contain certain designated items in order to be valid.

Moreover, an action to enforce a lien must be brought within 60 days from the date on which the work to be performed by the contractor is “completed or accepted by resolution of the pubic agency.” Otherwise, the lien will not be considered binding on the municipality or public agency.

Comments/Questions: ljm@gdnlaw.com

© 2008 Nissenbaum Law Group, LLC

New Licensing Requirements for New Jersey Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors

Construction Law:  On December 20, 2007, Governor Corzine signed into law the State Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contracting License Law.  This establishes a State Board of Examiners of Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors.  The Board is created within the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.  The Law came into being after a long legislative process including a previous gubernatorial veto. 
The Law is effective immediately.  In addition to creating the Board, the Law creates licensing requirements for contractors performing heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration (“HVACR”) services.  Notably, the services covered are broadly defined and generally refer to “the process of treating and protecting the environment by the responsible handling, dispensing, collecting and cleaning of chlorofluorocarbons and other refrigerants in stationary sources, and controlling the temperature, humidity and cleanliness of air by using the ‘wet,’ ‘dry,’ ‘radiant,’ ‘conduction,’ ‘convection,’ ‘direct,’ or ‘indirect’ method or combination of methods, including those which utilize solar energy, to meet the environmental requirements of a designated area.” 
Moreover, the Law makes distinctions between apprentice tradespeople (one who is learning the practice), journeymen tradespeople (those who work under a master contractor) and master contractors.  Generally speaking, only a Master HVACR contractor can obtain a license, and with limited exceptions only a licensed Master HVACR contractor can  provide HVACR services.  The other tradespeople can generally only provide services under the supervision of, or in connection with, a licensed Master HVACR contractor or licensed firm.
The Law further establishes specific qualifications for a Master HVACR contractor to obtain a license.  The qualifications for a Master HVACR contractor’s license include:

1) The individual-applicant must be at least 21 years of age; 

2) The individual-applicant must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States; and 

3) The individual-applicant must have the requisite combination of education and experience, as defined by the statute.

Proof of the statutory qualifications must be submitted to the Board with a written application and payment for the license fee prior to the examination for the Master HVACR contractor’s license.  The licensing exam will be a uniformed test administered by the Board and offered at least four times a year.  However, any applicant who has failed the exam must wait at least six months to be eligible for a re-examination. 
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the law provides for some exceptions to the examination requirement.  Specifically, if an application and proof of payment of the applicable fee is submitted to the Board within six months from the effective date of the Law (December 20, 2007), the Board shall issue a Master HVACR license without examination to:  “a. any licensed master plumber who has been engaged in the heating, ventilating, air conditioning or refrigeration business for at least two years prior to the date of his application for a Master HVACR license, or b. any person who has been engaged as a heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration contractor for at least two years prior to his date of application for a Master HVACR license.”  Accordingly, if you qualify under either of these prongs, and wish to avoid the Law’s examination requirement, be sure to proceed swiftly to submit your application.   
Notably, the license required hereunder is to be renewed biennially.  Currently, the Law allows for renewal of the license without reexamination so long as the renewal is timely and properly made.  However, the Law specifically states that the Board has discretion to make such license renewal contingent upon the satisfactory completion of continuing education requirements, which the Board may establish. 
The Law is effective immediately.  However, contractors will not be required to have the required licenses until 360 days after the initial establishment of the Board.  As of the date of this posting, the Board has not yet been solidified and therefore registration has not yet commenced.

Comments/Questions:

ljm@gdnlaw.com

Amendment to New Jersey Uniform Construction Code Act Relating to Inspections

New Jersey Legislation:
The New Jersey legislature  recently amended the State Uniform Construction Code Act with regard to construction inspections.  With certain exceptions, the revised law provides that the same inspector must make a follow up inspection on single-family residence inspections, if he previously issued a notice of violation.  Specifically, the revised portions of the law state as follows:

“When an inspector or team of inspectors finds a violation of the provisions of a construction permit, the code, or other applicable laws and regulations at an owner-occupied single family residence, and issues a notice of violation and an order to terminate the violation, the enforcing agency shall require the same inspector or team of inspectors who found the violation to undertake any subsequent reinspection thereof at the premises.  When the same inspector or team of inspectors cannot be assigned to undertake the reinspection, the enforcing agency may assign an available inspector provided the scope of the reinspection shall be limited to the violation for which the reinspection is required.”

However, these requirements to not apply to violations of the plumbing or electrical subcodes, or to fire safety code violations, or to any violation of any other subcode that the Department of Community Affairs deems to be a health or safety violation.

Moreover, the law specifically provides that the property owner may nevertheless request a different inspector, team of inspectors, or supervisor, to perform any required reinspection.

Comments/Questions:

ljm@gdnlaw.com