GLOSSARY OF COLLECTION LAW TERMINOLOGY
May 18th, 2023 | Attorney Articles and Publications
Discovery. Motion for Summary Judgment. Default. What do these commonly used terms mean? The purpose of this glossary is to assist community association board members and
property managers in better understanding legal terms and procedures that are
frequently utilized by our law firm in the collection process against unit owners who owe
common expenses to an association. Please feel free to contact us if you have any
questions about any of these terms.
Affidavit of Diligent Inquiry – A document that is filed with the Court which certifies that
we have used all reasonable efforts to serve the Complaint upon the unit owner
personally, but that we are unable to effectuate personal service; therefore, we are
serving the Complaint by sending it in the mail by certified and regular mail to the last
known address of the unit owner or by publishing a notice in the local newspaper.
Affidavit of Non-Military Service – An affidavit required by the Court to obtain a
judgment, in which we certify that the unit owner is not actively serving in any branch of
the United States Armed Forces.
Affidavit of Service of Complaint – An affidavit which we receive from the process server
(the person who serves legal documents) attesting that the Complaint was properly
served upon the unit owner as required by the New Jersey Court Rules.
Answer – The response to the Association’s collection Complaint, which the unit owner
files with the Court when the unit owner is contesting the allegations made by the
Association in the Complaint.
Attach/Levy – Generally, to seize personal property such as a bank account, vehicles,
any other personal property, or real property (real estate) in an effort to pay the
Complaint -The initial document filed by the Association in Court that commences the
collection lawsuit and sets forth claims for relief by the Association.
Default – Generally, the failure to perform a legal or contractual duty; specifically within
the context of a collection lawsuit, the failure by the unit owner to file an Answer to the
Complaint within the time period prescribed by the Court rules.
Default Judgment – A decision or Order entered by the Court awarding the Association
all outstanding amounts owed to it by the delinquent unit owner. After a unit owner has
failed to file an Answer to the Association’s collection complaint, and the Court has
entered Default against the unit owner, our law firm files a motion asking the Court to
enter the default judgment.
Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure – The process by which the unit owner and the lender agree
that the lender will accept title to the unit (or other real estate owned by the unit owner)
in satisfaction of the lender’s debt, without going through the foreclosure process and
having the unit sold at Sheriff’s sale.
Delinquency Letter – The initial letter (demand) which we send to the unit owner
advising that he/she is in arrears on the payment of monthly common charges and
demanding that such charges be paid.
Discovery – Generally, a method in litigation to obtain facts and information from the
other party in order to assist the party’s preparation for trial; discovery is routinely
conducted when a lawsuit is contested by the unit owner, i.e., the unit owner files an
Answer to the Complaint.
Deposition – A method of discovery in contested litigation in which one party asks
questions of the other party or a witness under oath, outside of court and with a court
reporter present, to obtain facts and information to assist the party’s preparation for trial.
Docketing a judgment – The process in which a judgment is listed in the Superior Court
in Trenton, such that the judgment becomes a lien upon any real estate owned by the
unit owner in New Jersey.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act – The federal statute that debt collectors must follow
which governs certain aspects of the process for the collection of consumer debts.
Foreclosure – A proceeding by which a lender or a mortgage holder on a property seeks
to take title or forces a sale of that property to satisfy its debt.
Information Subpoena – After we obtain a judgment for an association against a unit
owner, a form set of questions which we serve upon the unit owner, which the unit
owner is required to answer within 14 days of receipt under the New Jersey Court
Rules, to identify assets the unit owner may own and on which we can have the Sheriff
levy in order to satisfy the Association’s judgment.
Interrogatories – A method of discovery in contested litigation in which written questions
are served by one party on the other party in order to obtain facts and information to
assist the party’s preparation for trial.
Judgment – Generally a decision and/or Order by the Court regarding the rights and
claims of the parties in the lawsuit; specifically in the collection process an award by the
Court to the Association for the outstanding charges that the Association can
demonstrate to the Court are due and owing to it.
Lien – Generally, a claim or encumbrance on property for payment of a debt, obligation
Lien Claim – A document that is recorded in the County’s recording office against the
unit itself for any unpaid assessments and other charges duly owed to the Association
by the unit owner.
Motion – Generally, an application made to the Court requesting that the Court rule in
favor of the party making the request.
Motion to Enforce Litigants Rights – A motion that is filed with the Court, after a
judgment has been entered by the Association against a unit owner, when the unit
owner fails to provide answers to the Information Subpoena or to appear for his/her
deposition/supplemental proceedings, and which compels the unit owner to provide
answers to the Information Subpoena or deposition/supplemental proceedings, or face
arrest by the County Sheriff.
Motion to Enter Final Judgment By Default – A motion made to the Court by the
Association to enter judgment against a unit owner who has failed to file an Answer to
the Complaint (an uncontested litigation) for outstanding common expenses or other
Motion for Summary Judgment – A motion made to the Court in contested litigation, in
which the Association asserts that there are no genuine issues of material facts in a
case, that the Association is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and that therefore
the Court should grant the judgment to the Association for outstanding common
expenses and other charges.
Motion to Turn Over Funds – A motion filed with the Court after the Association has
obtained a judgment, which authorizes the Bank to release funds from the unit owner’s
bank account on which the County Sheriff has levied at our law firm’s request.
Notice of Acceleration – A demand letter sent to the unit owner advising that he/she is in
arrears on the payment of common expenses and other charges, and that if payment is
not made within a stated period of time, as required under the by-laws, the Association
will demand payment of the total amount of common charges due through the end of
the Association’s fiscal year.
Order for Discovery – An Order issued by the Court upon filing a Petition for Discovery,
which permits us to take the defendant’s deposition regarding his/her assets.
Order for Arrest – An Order entered by the Court in connection with the Association’s
Motion to Enforce Litigants Rights, compelling the unit owner to answer the Information
Subpoena or appear for his/her deposition/supplemental proceedings, within a period of
time, otherwise a warrant for the unit owner’s arrest will be issued.
Petition for Discovery – A request made to the Court after the Association obtains a
judgment, asking for an Order allowing us to take the unit owner’s deposition for the
purpose of identifying any assets the unit owner may own, and on which the Association
can have the County Sheriff levy in order to satisfy its judgment.
Post-judgment collection – Generally, the process and procedures we follow to locate
any assets of the unit owner to collect on the Association’s judgment.
Present owner search/title search – A search which we perform before we file the lien
claim and/or Complaint to find out who is the owner of the unit and whether there are
any mortgages or other liens on the property.
Process Server – An entity which we use in order to serve the Complaint upon the unit
Proof of Claim – A term most frequently used here in the context of a collection matter
pertaining to an Estate (deceased unit owner). A document filed with the County
Surrogate’s Office (office which deals with Estates), the purpose of which is to place the
Estate’s representative, i.e., the Executor/Executrix or administrator on notice of the
Association’s claim for outstanding common charges. It also is used in the context of a
bankruptcy filed by the unit owner for the same purpose, i.e., placing the unit owner and
bankruptcy court on notice of the outstanding charges due to the Association at the time
the unit owner filed bankruptcy.
Release of Lien Claim – A document which we file with the County Register releasing
the lien claim that was recorded against the unit. This release is filed only after the
arrears to the Association are paid in full.
Request for Admissions – A discovery method in contested litigation by which one party
demands that the other admit certain facts in the case so those facts become
undisputed at trial.
Request to Enter Default – A request made to the Court when the unit owner fails to file
an answer to the Complaint, and which, once entered, allows the Association to
proceed with filing a motion to enter final judgment by default.
Request for Production of Documents – A discovery method in contested litigation in
which one party demands that the other party provide documents regarding relevant
information to the case, in order to assist the party’s preparation for trial.
Skip Trace – A search performed by the process server when a new address needs to
be found for the unit owner in order to serve the Complaint.
Sheriff’s sale – A proceeding by which the Sheriff sells at public auction real estate
that has been foreclosed or otherwise levied, in order to satisfy the lender’s debt.
Supplemental Proceedings – Refers to proceedings in which we take the deposition of
the unit owner after a judgment has been entered, in order to discover what assets
he/she may own from which the Association, by having the County Sheriff levy on the
asset, may satisfy its judgment.
Substitution of attorney – A document filed with the Court which notifies the Court that
prior counsel has withdrawn from the case and that our firm is now representing the
Association in the case.
Wage garnishment – A proceeding after a judgment has been entered, by which a unit
owner’s wages/income are levied upon in order to satisfy the judgment
Warrant for Arrest – A document issued by the Court in connection with a motion to
enforce litigants rights and Order for Arrest, which is sent to the Sheriff instructing the
Sheriff to arrest the unit owner; the unit owner is brought to the Sheriff’s Office or to
Court to answer the Information Subpoena and/or appear for his/her deposition/supplemental
proceedings. Although the unit owner is arrested, the unit owner is never incarcerated or held overnight.
Warrant to Satisfy Judgment/Warrant of Satisfaction – A document releasing the
judgment when the arrears to the Association are paid in full.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
Buckalew Frizzell & Crevina LLP
55 Harristown Road, Suite 205
Glen Rock, NJ 07452