The decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to reverse an earlier, published decision from U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey has national consequences in limited super-priority lien states.
34-2-5635 Jaye v. Oak Knoll Village Condominium Owners Association, App. Div. (per curiam) (4 pp.) Chris Ann Jaye appealed from orders granting judgment in favor of Oak Knoll Village Condominium Association (OKV) for arrearages associated with common element assessments pursuant to N.J.S.A. 46:8B-17 and from an award of counsel fees to OKV in its collection action. Appellant is, and at all relevant times was, a unit owner at Oak Knoll Village, a condominium community. Appellant failed to pay her common element expenses. OKV instituted legal action seeking a judgment against appellant. Prior to the entry of judgment, a settlement was reached between the parties whereby in exchange for a “zero-out” of the claimed balance owed by appellant to OKV, appellant would commence payment of the common element charges. Notwithstanding the agreement, appellant ceased payments. OKV instituted another action by way of counterclaim seeking judgment for unpaid common element expenses and counsel fees. The appellate panel found the court appropriately granted OKV’s motion for summary judgment. Among the powers assigned by law to a condominium association is the authority to assess and collect funds for the payment of common expenses. Here, the judge’s finding that OKV was entitled to judgment for outstanding common expenses owed by appellant was in accord with the uncontroverted facts and the controlling law. A condominium association is also authorized to charge a nonpaying member with “reasonable” attorney fees. Here the judge acted within his discretion in determining that $8,000 in attorney fees was reasonable.
A Court’s opinion doesn’t have to say much to say a lot…the District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida, Fourth District, reverses a foreclosure judgment where the claim of lien overstated the amount actually due. The only case cited in the opinion, Saar v. Wellesley at Lake Clarke Shores Homeowners
Ass’n, 68 So. 3d 417 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011), found against the Association, holding:
What can be gleaned from this record is that the association and its accounting methods were woefully inadequate to correctly ascertain and give notice of the amounts claimed to be due. Because of this imperfect record-keeping, the association did not make a proper claim of lien, nor did it give sufficient notice in its complaint of its claim. Had it done so, in all *420420likelihood this case would not have even been filed. Saar showed that she consistently made the payments required and had detailed records to support her payments, many of which were not properly credited by the association. She paid all sums due in accordance with the notices and claim of lien.
Good record keeping and correct accounting are critical in any assessment collection case.