NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 30, 2013
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Somerset County, Docket No. DC-6066-11.
Daniel T. Kopec, attorney for appellant.
Respondent has not filed a brief.
Before Judges Yannotti and Leone.
Plaintiff Whitehall Manor Condominium Association appeals from an amended final judgment by default entered against defendant Vivian Burch on October 4, 2012. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand the matter to the trial court for further proceedings.
Plaintiff is a non-profit condominium association that was established pursuant to the New Jersey Condominium Act, N.J.S.A. 46:8B-1 to -38, and is governed pursuant to its master deed filed with the Somerset County Clerk and its by-laws. Defendant is the owner of a unit in the condominium and, therefore, she is a member of the association.
Plaintiff's by-laws authorize its board of directors to impose annual common expense assessments upon its members, with partial payments due monthly. If a member fails to make any required monthly payment, the board may accelerate the payments due for the remainder of the year. The board is additionally authorized to impose special and emergency assessments upon members, and charge late fees when payments are not made when required. The board is also authorized to recover its attorney's fees and certain costs incurred to recover monies due from members.
On August 22, 2011, plaintiff filed a complaint in the Special Civil Part against defendants. Plaintiff claimed defendants owed it unpaid common expense assessments, along with late fees, attorney's fees and other charges. The complaint was served upon defendant but she did not file an answer. On July 17, 2012, plaintiff filed a motion for a final judgment by default against defendant.
In support of the motion, plaintiff submitted an affidavit from Tracey Starace, plaintiff's accounts receivable manager. According to Starace, defendant owed plaintiff $10, 325 in common expense assessments, $100 in dryer vent fines, $25 for a satellite-dish violation, $11.50 for certified letters for the violations, $868 for emergency cash flow assessments, $227.80 for special snow assessments, and $950 in late fees. Starace said defendant also was obligated to pay plaintiff $6, 336.32 in attorney's fees.
Starace stated that as of June 2008, defendant had paid $1, 943.68, leaving a balance due of $16, 899.94. Starace also noted that a judgment had previously been entered against defendant in the amount of $4, 881.35, and she was entitled to a credit in this amount, resulting in a balance due of $12, 018.59. Starace asked the court to enter a judgment against defendant in that amount.
Attached to Starace's affidavit were copies of the relevant sections of plaintiff's master deed and by-laws, information regarding plaintiff's policies and the specific assessments and charges involved, and copies of plaintiff's records pertaining to the amounts that defendant owed. Plaintiff also provided an ...