46:3B-7. New home warranty security fund
7. a. There is hereby established a new home warranty security fund to be maintained by the State Treasurer in a trust account, separate and apart from other funds and administered by the commissioner. The purpose of the fund is (1) to provide moneys sufficient to pay claims by owners against builders participating in the fund for defects in new homes covered by the new home warranty; and (2) to pay the costs of administering the new home warranty program established in the department, including the costs of obtaining sufficient reinsurance to prudently protect the fund against unanticipated risks and costs incurred by the board in the discharge of its duties. The amounts payable by participating builders shall be established and may be changed from time to time, as the experience of the fund shall require, by the commissioner, and shall be sufficient to cover anticipated claims, to provide a reasonable reserve and to cover the costs of administering the fund. Amounts paid by participating builders shall be forwarded to the State Treasurer and shall be accounted for and credited by him to the new home warranty security fund.
b.The State Treasurer shall hold, manage and, through the Division of Investment, invest and reinvest moneys in the fund and credit all income earned thereon to the fund in the same manner as provided by law for the investment of pension and retirement funds administered by the State. The department shall keep the State Treasurer and the board advised of anticipated cash demands for payment of claims against the fund. No funds shall be spent, appropriated or transferred from the fund other than for the express purposes of paying claims or costs related to administering the program or the fund as enumerated in subsection a, c, or e of this section. In the event funds are spent, appropriated or transferred from the fund for other purposes in violation of this subsection, the obligation of participating builders to contribute to the fund shall be suspended until such time as the funds are replenished, and if the amount in the fund shall become insufficient thereafter to pay claims or make awards, the payment of claims and making of awards shall be made from the General Fund. The Joint Budget Oversight Committee, or its successor, shall have the authority to investigate complaints of violative fund transfers under this section, and shall order the Commissioner of Community Affairs to suspend collection from participating builders if it determines that the provisions of this subsection have been violated.
c.Prior to making a claim against the fund for defects covered by the warranty, an owner shall notify the builder of such defects and allow a reasonable time period for their repair. If the repairs are not made within a reasonable time or are not satisfactory to the owner, he may file a claim against the fund in the form and manner prescribed by the commissioner. The commissioner shall investigate each claim to determine the validity thereof, and the amount of the award that shall be made thereon, and shall hold a hearing if requested by either party, in accordance with the provisions of the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) applicable to contested cases. Reasonable hearing fees shall be assessed against the unsuccessful party. The amount of the award shall be sufficient to cover the reasonable costs necessary to correct any defect or defects covered under the warranty, but the total amount of awards from the fund for any new home shall not exceed the purchase price of the home in the first good faith sale thereof or the fair market value on the home on its completion date if there is no good faith sale. All claims submitted by an owner shall first be reviewed through a conciliation or arbitration procedure by the department, and in the event that the owner is found to be in the right, then the builder shall be required to correct such claims as determined through the conciliation or arbitration procedure. If a builder is unable or willfully refuses to correct such deficiency, then an amount sufficient to cure the problem shall be paid from the fund to the owner. In such cases, the commissioner may then proceed against the builder in accordance with subsection b. of section 6 of P.L.1977, c.467 (C.46:3B-6). Upon certification from the commissioner of the amount of an award, the State Treasurer shall make payment to the claimant from the fund.
d.(Deleted by amendment, P.L.2001, c.147).
e.If the board determines that fund reserves and reinsurance may be insufficient to cover anticipated claims, the board shall recommend steps to the commissioner to restore fund resources to sufficiency, which may include increases in premiums and fees, expanded reinsurance and changes in standards and claims adjudication procedures.
f.The commissioner may provide for surcharges against those builders who are responsible for a significant number of awards against the fund and may discontinue the participation in the fund of any builder who is responsible for an excessive number of awards against the fund after a hearing in accordance with the provisions of the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c. 410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) applicable to contested cases. At no time shall the State be required to contribute any moneys to the fund, nor shall the State have any liability to any person having any right to or claim against the fund over and above the amount therein
except in those instances where it is determined by the Joint Budget Oversight Committee that the provisions of subsection b. of this section have been violated concerning amounts spent, appropriated or transferred from the fund.
g.The commissioner may order the return of funds to owners of enrolled homes as may be recommended by the board pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2001, c.147 (C.46:3B-7.3).
L.1977,c.467,s.7; amended 2001, c.147, s.5.
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Last modified: October 11, 2016