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Beaver Brook Run Condominium Association, Inc. v. Gulya

A-4525-97T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)

CONDOMINIUMS; FEES—Where a condominium association’s by-laws make a collection attorney’s fees part of the sum due from an owner to the association, a stipulation requiring the unit owner to pay all sums owed to the association includes those reasonable attorney’s fees.

A condominium association reached a settlement agreement with a unit owner, prior to trial, with respect to outstanding charges for maintenance fees, attorney’s fees, and out of pocket expenses. The settlement permitted the association to apply for entry of judgment against the unit owner “in the amount of any and all sums then outstanding in favor of the Association in accordance with its governing documents and applicable law as if this Stipulation had never been entered into, plus costs of Court.” When the unit owner failed to pay, the association sought entry of judgment in the amount of the original claim plus additional counsel fees and expenses. The lower court denied the award of the pre-stipulation “and somewhat substantial” attorneys’ fees to the association, allowing only a portion of the post-stipulation attorneys’ fees. In doing so, the lower court did not treat the pre-stipulation attorney’s fees as “sums then outstanding in favor of the Association.” The Appellate Division disagreed. The Condominium Act allows an association to recover “reasonable attorney’s fees” in connection with the collection of assessments that are authorized by the master deed or by-laws. Here, the master deed authorized such a recovery. Thus, it was clear to the Court that the association was entitled to reasonable counsel fees and it found no support in fact or law for the lower court’s conclusion that the earlier fees had somehow been waived by the settlement.


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