On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Hudson County, DC-013354-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Reisner and LeWinn.
Plaintiff, Grandview at Riverwalk Port Imperial Condominium Association, Inc., appeals from a portion of an October 18, 2010 default judgment denying its application for counsel fees against defendants Michael Hyuk J. Han and So Yung Han. We reverse that portion of the judgment and remand for entry of an amended judgment that includes counsel fees. Plaintiff, a condominium association, sued defendants, owners of a condominium unit, to recover unpaid maintenance fees. Defendants defaulted, and plaintiff filed an application for default judgment. The application was supported by a copy of the Association's master deed and by-laws, which both specifically provide that the Association can recover counsel fees for actions against unit owners to collect unpaid maintenance fees. Without explanation, the Special Civil Part judge crossed out the section of plaintiff's proposed form of order that would have awarded $1730.47 in counsel fees. This appeal followed.
Having reviewed the record, we are satisfied that the trial court mistakenly exercised its discretion in denying counsel fees. Such fees are authorized by statute:
The association shall have a lien on each unit for any unpaid assessment duly made by the association for a share of common expenses or otherwise, including any other moneys duly owed the association, upon proper notice to the appropriate unit owner, together with interest thereon and, if authorized by the master deed or bylaws, late fees, fines and reasonable attorney's fees.
[N.J.S.A. 46:8B-21(a) (emphasis added).]
Here, the master deed and by-laws do authorize the collection of attorney's fees. Further, Rule 4:42-9(1)(8) permits an award of counsel fees where "permitted by statute." Moreover, we have reviewed the certification of services that counsel submitted to the trial court and, in the absence of any objection from defendants, we perceive nothing unreasonable in those charges. We therefore reverse the denial of counsel fees and remand this matter to the Special Civil Part to enter an amended judgment which shall include $1730.47 in counsel fees. Reversed and remanded.
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