Logan v. Delmonaco

A-3596-97T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: January 12, 1999

CONDOMINIUMS; CONVERSIONS; STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS—Claims based upon the failure of a condominium developer to advise an existing tenant of its purchase rights are subject to a six year limitations period.

Two years after a tenant and his mother moved into an apartment, the landlord converted the building into a condominium. A year later, the tenant received a notice about the conversion. It advised the tenants of certain protections from eviction if they were disabled or age sixty-two or older. That notice, however, did not advise the tenant that it had a “right to purchase ownership in the premises at a specified price” pursuant to N.J.S. 2A:18-61.8. Eight years later, a lender acquired title to the apartment by deed in lieu of foreclosure. Shortly thereafter, the lender sold the unit. Five years later (almost 15 years after the building had been converted), the tenant (whose mother had died in the meantime) sought a declaratory ruling that he retained his right to purchase the unit. The lower court ruled that a six year statute of limitation applied and the Appellate Division affirmed. The tenant’s argument that the statute does not apply because such a claim is subject to the “liability of the statute” exception was rejected. According to the Court, the tenant’s former right to purchase the unit did not arise “solely upon statutory provisions, ... , but requires an offering from the owner seeking to convert the building to condominium units and an acceptance of that price by the tenant.” Further, in the Court’s opinion, the tenant’s claim was barred by the doctrine of laches. Nine years between the original notice and the sale of the unit by the lender was just too long.