• Landmark Appellate Decision - Tax Foreclosure Judgment Vacated for Commercial Property Owner (May 2022):  Real estate tax foreclosure laws in New Jersey can be harsh. It is critical that property owners hire competent counsel when confronted with a tax foreclosure suit. This was a case where our client, a 75-year old man, lost title to his commercial rental property in Paterson, New Jersey valued in the range of $475,000 to $535,000 resulting from a tax foreclosure judgment obrtained by a lienholder/investor who initially purchased a mere $606 in sewer tax liens from the City of Paterson. The tax lien lien had grown in excess of $30,000 by the time the plaintiff filed suit many years later. Unlike residential foreclosure suits, there are no sheriff sales in tax foreclosure suits. Thus, when the plaintiff in a tax foreclosure suit obtains a final judgment it serves as the equivalent of a deed transferring title to the plaintiff.  Such was the situation in our client's case. The property had no mortgage, so our client stood to lose his entire equity position in the property - which would have been a financial diaster for him.  Our client deposited sufficient funds in our attorney trust account to satisfy the tax liens and we promptly filed a motion to vacate the tax sale judgment and restore title of the property to our clients.  After a contested motion hearing conducted in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Passaic County, the judge ruled in our client's favor, agreeing with our argument that the tax sale plaintiff's primary remedy is to receive full payment of the tax lien, plus accrued interest, and reimbursement of its counsel fees and costs, as opposed to receiving a windfall of over $400,000 to our client's detriment and prejudice. 257-261 20th Avenue Realty LLC v. Robert, et al., Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Passaic County, Docket No.: F-3349-21.  In December 2023, an appellate court affirmed the decision and declared the New Jersey Tax Sale Law unconstitutional. The landmark case is currently before the New Jersey Supreme Court. 


  • Default Judgment, Sheriff's Sale and Deed to Third Party Purchaser Voided for Defective Service Of Process and Due Process Violations (May 2020):  This case involved a commercial condominium unit in Hoboken valued at $350,000 to $375,000 and was unencumbered by a mortgage. The property owner stopped paying his monthly maintenance fees due a dispute with the condominium association over his unit being excluded from insurance coverage for damages caused by Hurricane Sandy. The association chose to file a lawsuit in the Special Civil Part to recover its unpaid maintenance fees in excess of $4,000, and then proceeded to sell the unit for only $32,000 at a sheriff's sale conducted by the Hudson County Sheriff. Unlike regular foreclosure cases where the plaintiff must cause the summons and complaint to be personally served on the property owner, in Special Civil Part cases (where the amount in controversy is less than $15,000) the Court Clerk mails the summons and complaint to the property address. In this particular instance our client had not occupied the property since 2013 when Hurricane Sandy hit, which the associaiton knew. Further, the association had locked our client out of the common area of the building where mailboxes are maintained - which the association also knew. Yet, the association chose to file the lawsuit in the Special Civil Part knowing that our client would not receive the summons and complaint addressed to the property. Further, the association knew that our client had selected email notification as his preferred method of receiving communications from the association, yet the association never sent our client an email about the case.  Before the property owner hired our firm, he had lost a property worth between $350,000 to $375,000 over a paltry judgment of less than $5,000. Over the objections of the third party purchaser and condo assocition, we successfully persuaded the Court to vacate the default judgment and sheriff's sale and order the purchaser to deed the property back to our client conditioned on: (1) the purchaser receiving reimbursement of the $32,000 purchase price and reasonable expenses, and (2) the condo association receiving additional unpaid maintenance fees plus reimbursement of its post-judgment counsel fees and costs.  83 Monroe Condominium Association, Inc. v. Rodgers, Superior Court of New Jersey, Special Civil Part, Hudson County, Docket No. DC-4287-16.


  • Foreclosure Judgment Vacated for Defective Service of Process (Sept. 2019): We successfully vacated a final judgment of foreclosure inappropriately obtained against our client based on the lender's attempt to serve the summons and foreclosure complaint by publication in The Bergen Record newspaper.  After purchasing the property our client relocated to Argentina, and signed up for Wells Fargo's email notification system to ensure that he would receive all notices pertaining to his mortgage account.  Wells Fargo accepted his appliction for email notifications. Our client then rented the property to a tenant.  Due to unexpected circumstances our client was unable to make all of his mortgage payments to Wells Fargo, and his loan was declared in default. However, Wells Fargo failed to email the default notice to our client, claimed it could not locate him, rushed to publish notice of the lawsuit in The Bergen Record, and obtained a default judgment. Our client's tenant informed him about the lawsuit, and the client promptly retained our law firm.  We filed a motion to vacate the default judgment predicated on the lender's failure to effect proper service of the summons and complaint, and requested permission that our client be allowed to cure the loan default by paying the loan arrears in lump sum. Wells Fargo agreed, and we resolved the foreclosure suit without ever having to step into the courtroom. Wells Fargo v. Wainer, Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Bergen County, Docket No.: F-6156-19.


  • Victory for Commercial Property Owner in Tax Foreclosure Case (Jan. 2018):  Our law firm succeeded in helping a commercial property owner recover title to his property lost in a tax foreclosure case. About a month after the foreclosure judgment was entered our client secured the funds necessary to pay off the plaintiff's tax sale certificate, but by then it was too late because title to the property already had passed to the plaintiff. (Unlike regular real esate foreclosures that require a sheriff's sale before title can pass, in real estate tax foreclosure cases title passes to the plaintiff once the Court enters final judgment.) This unfortunate situation presented an absolute disaster for our client who is counting on this property to fund his retirement, as the property has $200,000 in equity over and above the amount due on the tax lien and there is no mortgage lien. We filed an emergent application to vacate the judgment on the grounds of "changed circumstances" - that our client now possessed the money required to pay off the tax lien and therefore it would be inequitable to continue enforcing the judgment against him.  In an oral ruling issued on January 19, 2018 the Court agreed, and now our client stands to get his property back.  As a result of our efforts we preserved more than $200,000 of equity for our client. Bascom Corp. v. Mullen, Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Passaic County, Docket No.: F-13914-16.


  • Victory for Successful Bidder at Sheriff's Sale (Jan. 2018): Represented successful foreclosure bidder in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case involving a multi-million dollar commercial property in Palisades Park, New Jersey.  Our client purchased the property for $6.4 million at a judicial sale conducted by the Bergen County Sheriff. After the sale, the debtor attempted to exercise its state law redemption rights by presenting approximately $6.5 million in certified funds to the Sheriff. However, the debtor failed to seek bankruptcy court approval for this substantial loan transaction which violated its fiduciary obligations under the Bankruptcy Code. After a contested hearing, the bankruptcy court rejected the unauthorized loan transaction and granted our client relief from the automatic stay of the Bankruptcy Code to complete the foreclosure sale. Thereafter, over the property owner's objection, the Superior Court of New Jersey confirmed the sale and directed the Bergen County Sheriff to issue the property deed to our client. KL Palisades, LLC, United States Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey, Civil Case No.: 15-32649-SLM.


  • Family Home Rescued From Tax Foreclosure (November 2013):  Our clients lost their home as a result of an unpaid real estate tax lien foreclosed by a tax lien purchaser. Our clients claimed they had no knowledge of the lawsuit, and were completely shocked when sheriff’s officers appeared at their home with moving trucks to evict them.  We determined that there was a basis to overturn the foreclosure judgment because of defective service of legal process. We immediately prepared and filed an order to show cause to vacate the foreclosure judgment on the basis of lack of due process, and requested a preliminary injunction prohibiting the plaintiff tax investor from selling the property pending further order of the Court.  Prior to the court hearing plaintiff consented to allow our clients to redeem the property by paying the full amount of the unpaid tax lien, plus legal fees and interest.   We saved the family’s home without ever appearing in the Courtroom!  Royal Tax Lien Services vs. Arik, Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Bergen County, Docket No.: F-7409-11.


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