Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Hudson
Decided: March 21, 2017
D. Lipstein for plaintiff.
Forman for defendant Highland House Condominium Association
(McGovern Legal Services, LLC, attorneys).
SARKISIAN, P.J. CH.
before the court is plaintiff's motion to vacate a
redemption of a tax sale certificate, Tax Sale Certificate
No. 2006-1326, by defendant Highland House Condominium
Association, Inc. ("Highland House"). This matter
arises out of plaintiff's action to foreclose a tax sale
certificate that it purchased on June 22, 2006, at a public
sale, for defendant Ali M. Ayed's ("Ayed")
property located at 2700 Kennedy Boulevard, Unit 114, Jersey
City, New Jersey, which is a unit within defendant Highland
November 22, 2016, plaintiff filed an order to show cause
with a verified complaint to vacate the redemption. On
December 29, 2016, the court denied the order to show cause
without prejudice to seek the relief by motion. Plaintiff
filed the instant motion on January 31, 2017. The motion was
adjourned with the parties attempting, without success, to
resolve their differences. It was ultimately set down for a
plenary hearing on March 17, 2017, with the court, in its
letter of March 10, 2017, identifying the court's need to
hear testimony and consider documentary evidence on the
communications between counsel primarily in early September
2016, which led to the defendant's redemption of the
subject tax sale certificate on September 19, 2016.
of Operative Facts and Contentions
22, 2006, plaintiff purchased Tax Sale Certificate No.
2006-1326, which related to Ayed's property at 2700
Kennedy Boulevard, Unit 114, Jersey City, at a public sale.
The Tax Sale Certificate was recorded on August 15, 2007.
March 10, 2014, plaintiff filed the instant foreclosure
complaint seeking to foreclose the tax sale certificate,
naming Ayed and Highland House Condominium Association as
defendants. The order of final judgment, entered on March 11,
2016, noted that plaintiff was entitled to the sum of $19,
472.29 plus interest from the tax foreclosure sale. However,
on June 24, 2016, Judge Innes granted plaintiff's motion
for an order vacating judgment. On July 25, 2016, Judge Innes
entered an order fixing the amount, time, and place for
redemption, which established the amount due as $20, 756.15
and the redemption date to be September 8, 2016. The order
notes that redemption should be permitted up until the entry
of final judgment.
Highland House had also recorded a lien for unpaid
assessments against the property in the amount of $5, 018.03
on October 8, 2013, and recorded a second lien in the amount
of $8, 144.24 on December 28, 2015. Thereafter, on January 6,
2014, approximately two months before plaintiff had filed its
foreclosure action, Highland House filed its own foreclosure
complaint against Ayed under Docket No. F-000222-14.
Ultimately, Highland House was awarded a final judgment of
foreclosure in that action on September 26, 2016, in the
amount of $8, 330.77.
court's focus for the plenary hearing began in early
September 2016 regarding the communications between
plaintiff's attorney, Howard Lipstein, and the
defendant's attorney, Tiffany Byczkowski, of McGovern
Legal Services. The court considered their testimony and
exhibits marked into evidence on March 17, 2017.
September 2, 2016, Highland House's counsel contacted
plaintiff's counsel to discuss plaintiff assigning the
tax sale certificate to Highland House or plaintiff paying
off the Association's liens. Mr. Lipstein indicated his
client was interested in acquiring title to the property and
countered with inquiring on the amount defendant would
require from plaintiff to satisfy their lien for condominium
maintenance charges. Defendant's attorney had made
plaintiff's attorney aware of their pending foreclosure
September 6, 2016, plaintiff informed Highland House that it
intended to complete the foreclosure action to obtain title
to the property and repeated his client's interest in
satisfying the defendant's lien. Plaintiff's attorney
was advised by defendant's attorney that once she had a
current account ledger she would forward it to him. Lipstein
testified at the hearing that he was under the mistaken
opinion that the Condominium Association, as a named
defendant in his action, would have the right to redeem the
tax sale certificate.
September 7, 2016, a telephone conversation took place
between the attorneys, in which plaintiff's counsel
advised he would have an answer shortly on whether he would
consider an assignment/sale of the tax sale certificate
versus the option of paying off the condominium lien. His
client wanted a further explanation of a charge on the lien
account ledger. Lipstein agreed to extend the redemption time
for three weeks in order to allow the settlement negotiations
to continue. Plaintiff's attorney then sent an email the
same day to Highland House's counsel advising her that it
would extend the period of time for Highland House to redeem
the tax sale certificate by three weeks from the September 8,
2016, date set by Judge Innes's July 25, 2016 order,
"based upon [the parties'] continuing ...