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My condo association has charged maintenance fees in excess of my percentage interest. Can I sue under NJ Consumer Fraud Act?

Montclair, NJ |

When I purchased my unit in 2007, my Association certified my monthly assessment as $420.14 per month. I later learned that the total Association monthly assessment is $35,674.96. My percentage interest in common expenses is 1.03682 percent, so my monthly payment should be only $369.89. There are no provisions in our master deed or by-laws for any other charges. This information was confirmed by a CPA hired by the Association to perform an audit.

The Association misrepresented a material fact in connection with the sale of real estate being offered to the general public. The CFA does not require proof of intent to mislead, only the capacity to mislead. I relied on the information provided by the Association and have an ascertainable loss inasmuch as I have overpaid each month.

I have approached my Board about the matter, explaining that they must adhere to the Master Deed and that they cannot arbitrarily charge unit owners what they feel is "fair." I have demanded that they correct my monthly assessment, but they have refused. Now I'm planning to sue to get my money back and compel them to adhere to our Master Deed. I'm interested in the CFA because it mandates the reward of treble damages and the recovery of legal fees to a prevailing plaintiff. Since New Jersey follows the American Rule, I'm open to any other routes by which I can recover my legal fees.

Attorney Answers 1

  1. In addition to the master deed and bylaws, it may be helpful to look at the public offering statement as well. Without reviewing the relevant documents, it's difficult for an attorney on this website to determine whether the Consumer Fraud Act applies. Consult an attorney in your area who practices consumer protection law. You can also file a complaint with the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) at Their response will help you determine whether the Consumer Fraud Act applies in your case.

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