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  • December 18, 2013

    Hill Wallack LLP Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Township of Mahwah Homeowners

    Princeton, NJ, December 18, 2013 -- Hill Wallack LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of more than 150 homeowners against the Township of Mahwah, New Jersey regarding the right to sell their “affordable” homes.

    The plaintiffs in the suit are owners of affordable homes constructed in Mahwah under the so-called “Mount Laurel” doctrine, which says that towns must provide for homes that are affordable for a period of time. The homes were sold subject to terms originally agreed to by the Township and the homeowners.  That agreement was embodied in Mahwah Township’s 1987 Affordable Housing Plan which limited resales of the affordable homes to below-market affordable prices for a period of 25 years.  It provided, however, that at the end of 25 years, the homeowners could resell their homes at market prices and without any limitations.  The Township’s Affordable Housing Plan was incorporated into the master deeds for the plaintiffs’ homes.  The 25-year periods of controls are now expiring. 

    The lawsuit contends that Mahwah has acted to prevent the homeowners from selling their homes under the terms of the original agreement.  Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that Mahwah has told the homeowners that they cannot sell their homes except with the consent of the Township, even after the 25-year period of restrictions has expired.   Moreover, the Township has insisted that they must either sell their homes to the Township at the restricted affordable price or must pay to the Township 95% of the difference between the restricted affordable price and the market price.

    The lawsuit seeks a judgment from the court declaring that, after the expiration of the 25 year period of controls, the plaintiff homeowners may freely sell their homes to any buyer at any price, without the consent of Mahwah and without making any payment to the town.  In effect, they would be free to sell their homes under the terms of the original agreement - the 1987 Affordable Housing Plan - as incorporated into the master deeds under which they purchased their homes. 

    The homeowners have organized themselves as the Mahwah Affordable Housing Owners.

    Mahwah officials have told the homeowners that Mahwah is compelled to continue the restrictions beyond the 25 year period originally agreed to by the Township and the purchasers of affordable homes.  The plaintiffs allege that, as to their homes, Mahwah is not subject to any such requirement. 

    “This is a case about fairness to people who bought homes in the expectation that, in accordance with their master deeds, they would ultimately be able to sell those homes at market prices.  We hope that the elected officials of Mahwah give this further thought and conclude that the position of our clients is fair, and that it is required by the terms of the original agreement between the Township and homeowners,” stated Stephen M. Eisdorfer, Esq., a partner at Hill Wallack LLP.

    To speak with Stephen M. Eisdorfer or Thomas F. Carroll, III, on this matter, please contact Lindsay Curran at (609) 734-6307 or lcurran@hillwallack.com.

     

    About Hill Wallack LLP

    Founded in 1978, Hill Wallack LLP is a leading law firm with offices in Princeton and Morristown, New Jersey and Yardley, Pennsylvania. Our regional strength places us in an ideal position in today’s market. With 70 lawyers, our mid-market size allows us to provide sophisticated, high-level service to clients in a cost-efficient, responsive manner.

    Our attorneys are called upon to tackle some of the toughest legal and business challenges. The firm represents businesses, nonprofit and government entities, and individuals in litigation, transactional and regulatory issues. The firm also includes those skilled in family law, trusts & estates, tax liability and other areas of individual service. For more information, please visit www.hillwallack.com.