The Commons at Piscataway, Inc. v. The Commons at Piscataway Condominium Assoc., Inc.

A-3801-97T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: April 5, 1999

CONDOMINIUMS; LIENS—A condominium lien may be recorded only with respect to charges attributable to a given unit; blanket liens covering unrelated charges are not authorized by statute.

The issue presented on this appeal was whether N.J.S. 46:8B-21, the condominium lien statute, permits a condominium association to record a “blanket lien.” A condominium association recorded a single claim of lien against 17 condominium units owned by a developer. The claim asserted that a large sum of money remained unpaid on account of common expenses due with respect to the 17 units. In essence, the association claimed that the developer had conveyed 200 of 217 units without paying the assessment due from the sold units. The lower court held that the association could not record a lien on any unit in an amount greater than the maintenance fees based on a percentage share of common expenses due from the particular unit. While the association could sue the developer for unpaid charges, it was not entitled to file a statutory lien. The Condominium Act provides that “[e]ach unit shall constitute a separate parcel of real property. ” and “[t]he proportionate undivided interest in the common elements assigned to each unit shall be inseparable from such unit.” Therefore, the statute “plainly envisions a single unit as security for the payment of that unit’s unpaid assessments for maintenance and its percentage share of the common expenses.” Its words are: “[t]he amount of common expenses charged to each unit shall be a lien against such unit… .” The Court was unwilling to interpret the Act as allowing so drastic a remedy as a “blanket lien” on a developer’s remaining unsold units without a clearly expressed intention by the Legislature to permit such a lien. In its view, “the creation of the lien without prior adjudication is a drastic remedy which should not be lightly read into the law.”