I own a condo unit in a New Jersey Condo Association. In January 2013, the HOA began claiming that they were due monthly maintenance fees that I had already paid. I was quite busy at the time with relocating out-of-state and getting my condo on the market, and was not getting anywhere with phone calls to the HOA.
It seemed that every time a payment was made, the HOA was applying it incorrectly. Payments were being made through a bill payment service through my bank, so I requested that my bank contact them to resolve the issue. A representative contacted the HOA in March 2013 and all were in agreement that the payments had been made, yet the documentation errors were never fixed.
After I had put my condo on the market, I stopped making payments and figured it would get resolved at closing. The HOA turned this matter over to their attorney, so I paid the HOA fees and thought the matter was resolved. My next statement, however, still indicated that they had not received payments.
I responded to their attorney, yet was sent letters indicating that he had not heard from me, even though sent by certified letter. He filed a claim against me and I received a notice to appear in court in June 2014. I appeared in court ready to resolve the matter, only to find out that the case was dismissed because the judge granted a Motion to Strike my Answer three weeks prior for failure to answer interrogatories without prejudice. A default judgment was entered for maintenance fees, which included accelerated fees for the entire year, even though the year was only half over at that point. In addition, a lien was placed on my condo unit, and legal fees totaled $4,146.66.
I filed a motion to vacate the default judgment and provided information to show discrepancies with HOA records going back to 2013, along with a bank statement, cancelled check, letter from the bank documenting conversation with HOA, and the certified letter receipt to the attorney. The attorney acknowledged the discrepancies and responded that they were researching payment.
On September 3, 2014, which I was in New Hampshire taking an exam (cell phones not allowed in testing area), the attorney left a voicemail stating the Court had asked him to notify me that there would be oral argument on September 5 at 10:45am. On September 4, I received another voicemail while at work from the Judge’s Law Clerk saying she wanted to make sure I was contacted about court the next day. It wasn’t until September 5 that I listened to my messages, after which I immediately called her back. After revealing she was new, I was told this was normal procedure. and that a judgment would be entered. She then gave me the number of another Court office for additional assistance, which I called and left message, but never received a response.
I sent a certified letter on September 9, and received a notice at the end of September that my Motion to Vacate the Default was denied, followed by a check for fees I had paid. On October 1, the attorney acknowledged that the HOA accounting was flawed, but proceeded to file a Motion to Suppress Defendant’s Answer with Prejudice. My response was to file an Objection and send a check for $1443. On October 27, the attorney returned my check. On November 3, the Judge granted the attorney’s motion.
At this point, I have no idea if the Judgment is even the same one entered in June. I’d never received anything on research results, and since then they’ve received payments from June –November 2014, which is part of the accelerated payments. I’ve researched going forward with an appeal, but realize I’m at a disadvantage. Does anyone have any legal advice?