Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Condominium Associations: Fear Not The Dreaded Legal Fees
By: Angela M. Morisco, Esq.
If your condominium association has delinquent owners, fear not the dreaded legal fees. In a decision dated May 1, 2015, the Appellate Division confirmed what community association collection attorneys already know. Condominium owners are statutorily and contractually obligated to pay monthly maintenance fees. Most governing documents provide that in the event resort to counsel is required to collect delinquent maintenance fees, the association will be entitled to recover its reasonable attorney's fees. The reasonableness of the fee is for the court to determine.
However, delinquent owners are cautioned and associations are advised, that the law does not require "proportionality" between the amount of maintenance fees sought to be recovered and the legal fees incurred to collect the delinquency. This rule is well grounded in New Jersey law in general. (See, Furst v. Einstein Moomjy, Inc., 182 N.J. 1, 23 (2004); Walker v. Giuffre, 209 N.J. 124, 132 (2012) This rule is equally applicable to collection of delinquent condominium fees as determined in Adelphia Greens II Condominium Association, Inc. v. Dubrovsky (App. Div. 2015)
Hence, the fear of the fees is not a basis to avoid turning delinquent owners over to counsel for collection!