When a unit owner in a condominium or common interest community accrues a substantial debt from unpaid monthly maintenance fees, special assessments, late fees, and other condo fees, the association may choose to pursue a foreclose or money judgment action to collect fees owed. A large majority common interest community association litigation takes place in the Special Civil Part division of the Law Division often because the amounts in dispute are lower than the threshold monetary limit of $15,000. When bringing an action in the Special Civil Part, parties must consider the Court’s Rules.
One consideration is venue. Rule 6:1-3(a) calls for venue to by laid in the county in which at least one (1) defendant in the action resides. Parties bringing actions against common interest community associations frequently file those actions in the county of the association’s managing agent. If an association is located in a county other than that of the managing agent, venue will then be improper.
Another consideration is the form of the Special Civil Part notice of motion. The “ten day” language must be in all notices of motion. Rule 6:3-3(c)(2) states that the notice of motion must include language indicating that the order sought will be entered in the court’s discretion unless the party served submits an opposition in writing within ten days after the date of service of the motion. Again, failure to abide by this Special Civil Part rule results in delay and expenses.
Finally, one must consider discovery deadlines in the Special Civil Part. The 40 and 60-day periods set forth in the regular Law Division are each reduced in Special Civil to 30 days. The deadlines associated with Requests of Admissions and Document Requests remain the same in the Special Civil Part.
The examples noted above are a few of the most glaring distinctions in practice between the Special Civil Part and the regular Law Division. The Community Associations Group of Stark & Stark regularly represents clients in the Special Civil Part and is adept at utilizing the New Jersey Court Rules to best advance its clients’ position therein.