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The Oaks Condominium Association, Inc. v. Abouelmaati

A-1807-07T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2009) (Unpublished)

CONDOMINIUMS — To pursue its remedy for non-payment of assessments and fines against a unit owner based upon a settlement order, a condominium association must strictly comply with the terms of the settlement order even though it may be clear that the required payment from the unit owner had not been received.

A condominium association filed a complaint for foreclosure against a condominium owner based on nonpayment of assessments and fines. The parties subsequently entered into a consent order settling these allegations, with the proviso that, if the condominium owner failed to abide by the order, the balance due and all waived fines and late fees would become immediately due and payable and the association could proceed with a foreclosure action. An issue arose as to whether the condominium owner had timely paid the last installment payment required under the order. The association sued the condominium owner.

The lower court awarded damages to the condominium association. It found that the condominium owner’s testimony at trial to not be credible. It thus ruled that the installment payment required under the consent order had not been made.

The condominium owner appealed, and the Appellate Division remanded the matter to the lower court. It held that a key finding by the lower court, that a letter was written in anticipation of the receipt of payment for the third installment required by the consent order and of payment for outstanding association fees, was not supported by the evidence. The Court found that the foundational elements supporting the lower court’s acceptance of the association’s contentions were missing. Therefore, it asked the lower court to permit further testimony on this issue. In doing so, it expressed no opinion as to the proper result in this matter, leaving it to the lower court to decide.

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