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Township of North Bergen v. Block 454A, Lot 1HM assessed to Garden State Buildings

A-1662-00T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2002) (Unpublished)

TAXATION— The owner of a subdivided lot who fails to ask the municipality to apportion taxes for the entire subdivision will be required to pay taxes for the entire subdivision in order to avoid a tax sale.

A property owner settled a quiet title action involving riparian claims made by the State of New Jersey. A consent judgment subdivided the property into three parcels. Even though the property was subdivided, the municipality did not apportion the assessment for the three lots, but continued to tax it as one parcel. A subsequent owner failed to pay the taxes and the municipality filed an in rem foreclosure action to foreclose the owner’s right to redeem the tax sale certificate. The owner claimed that the tax sale certificate was not valid because the municipality never apportioned the tax assessment among the three parcels. The lower court directed the municipality to apportion the tax assessment and ordered the property owner to redeem the tax sale certificate within thirty days after the apportionment. The municipality apportioned the parcels and the owner did not redeem. Instead, it challenged the apportionment in Tax Court. On the municipality’s motion, the lower court struck the owner’s answer to the foreclosure action. On appeal, the owner claimed that the tax sale certificate and in rem foreclosure action were invalid because the municipality failed to reapportion the taxes after the property was subdivided. The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s decision. It found that the owner could not claim that it was prejudiced by the municipality’s failure to apportion the taxes among the subdivided parcels because the owner had not applied for apportionment. The owner also challenged the legality of the apportionment of the assessment. The Court rejected the owner’s arguments. It noted that the lower court had ordered the municipality to apportion the taxes among the parcels and directed the owner to redeem within thirty days. It would not permit the owner to stall the foreclosure action pending the resolution of the Tax Court case. Further, the owner was required to pay the delinquent taxes before filing the Tax Court case.

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