October 25, 2013
LIEN TIMES, LLC, Plaintiff-Respondent,
ANDREW RADER, SHARON RADER, HIS WIFE, Defendants-Appellants, and EQUIFIRST CORPORATION, MARIO A. AGALIOTIS, DDS; FORD MOTOR CREDIT COMPANY LLC, MIDLAND FUNDING LLC, HORIZON BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF NEW JERSEY A/K/A HORIZONHEALTHCARE SERVICES INC.; STATE OF NEW JERSEY; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendants
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted July 2, 2013
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Morris County, Docket No. F-4296-11.
Andrew Rader and Sharon Radar, appellants pro se.
Pellegrino & Feldstein, L.L.C., attorneys for respondent (Michael G. Pellegrino, on the brief).
Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Sabatino.
In this foreclosure action, defendant Andrew Rader appeals from the August 2, 2012 Chancery Division order entering judgment on a tax sale certificate against defendant and Sharon Rader for property located in Randolph. We affirm.
Relying upon our decision in Deutsche Bank v. National Trust Company v. Mitchell, 422 N.J.Super. 214, 225 (App. Div. 2011), defendants contends that plaintiff is not the owner of the lien and therefore does not have standing and is not the real party in interest. We reject defendants' contentions.
The Certificate of Sale for unpaid municipal liens was sold to plaintiff by the Randolph tax collector on October 1, 2008, and judgment was thereafter issued in favor of plaintiff. Defendants' contentions otherwise are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3 3(e)(1)(E). We add the following brief comments.
Standing requires a "sufficient stake in and real adverseness with respect to the subject matter, " and a substantial likelihood of harm to the plaintiff by an unfavorable decision. Stubaus v. Whitman, 339 N.J.Super. 38, 47 (App. Div. 2001). "A lack of standing by a plaintiff precludes a court from entertaining any of the substantive issues presented for determination." In re Adoption of Baby T., 160 N.J. 332, 340 (1999). To have standing to foreclose a mortgage, a party generally must "own or control the underlying debt." Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Ford, 418 N.J.Super. 592, 597 (App. Div. 2011).
N.J.S.A. 54:5-1 to -137, provides a mechanism for individuals or entities to purchase tax liens from municipalities and to thereafter initiate foreclosure actions against property owners who are delinquent in paying their property taxes. The foreclosure process begins when a property owner fails to pay the property taxes, as the unpaid balance becomes a municipal lien on the property. N.J.S.A. 54:5-6. When unpaid taxes or any municipal lien remains in arrears for the requisite statutory period, the tax collector "shall enforce the lien by selling the property[.]" N.J.S.A. 54:5-19. Once the property is sold, a certificate of tax sale is issued to the purchaser. N.J.S.A. 54:5-46.
Here, having purchased the Certificate of Sale, plaintiff owned the underlying debt. Therefore, plaintiff possessed the requisite standing to foreclose on the property.