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Guidelines for New Jersey Residential Eviction
Non-Payment of Rent

Please note: This information and forms are applicable for residential evictions only

TYPICAL LANDLORD AND TENANT COMPLAINTS

      The likely reasons a landlord may file a complaint in the Landlord/Tenant Section of the New Jersey Superior Court, Special Civil Part, include:

bulletFailure to pay rent.
bulletContinued disorderly conduct.
bulletWillful destruction or damage to property.
bulletHabitual lateness in paying rent.
bulletViolation of rules and regulations, after written notice to comply, as outlined in a lease or other document.
bulletTenant's conviction for a drug offense.
 

 NOTICE

     Before filing most complaints, a landlord must give a tenant written notice to correct a lease violation. A landlord may only proceed to file an eviction lawsuit if a tenant fails to correct the violation within the statutory notice period.

      The notice for Failure to Pay Rent, or Substantial Lease Violation is three days.

" . . . a demand that said tenant remove from said premises within three days from the service of such notice. The notice shall specify the cause of the termination of the tenancy, and shall be served either personally upon the tenant or such person in possession by giving him a copy thereof, or by leaving a copy thereof at his usual place of abode with some member of his family above the age of 14 years."

" . . .It shall be shown to the satisfaction of the court by due proof that the notice herein required has been given."

      Complaints for other than non-payment of rent generally require notice terminating the tenancy. Termination of a year to year lease may require a three month notice, all others are one rental period.

      In New Jersey a landlord or a tenant that is a corporation must be represented by an attorney in all matters filed in the court. No landlord or tenant may be represented by anyone other than a lawyer.

WHERE TO FILE A COMPLAINT

      A complaint must be filed with the Office of the Special Civil Part Clerk in the county where the rental premises are located.

FILING A COMPLAINT

      A Landlord/Tenant complaint form is available from the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part in the county where the rental premises are located. The complaint can be sent to the court through the mail or delivered in person. When filing a complaint, you must:

Give your full name, address, and telephone number. To ensure proper service of the complaint, give the correct name(s) and address(es) of the person(s) named in the complaint as defendant(s). It is important that the defendant be properly identified as an individual, a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. Give all information for the type of complaint you're filing, as indicated on the form. Sign the completed form. Pay the correct filing and service fees when filing the complaint with the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part.

FILING FEES

      The cost for filing a complaint in the Landlord/Tenant Section is:

$20.00 for one defendant. $2.00 for each additional defendant.

In addition, you must pay a mileage fee for delivery of the complaint by a Court Officer. The staff of the Special Civil Part can inform you of the mileage fee.

PREPARATION FOR TRIAL

Landlord

      If you are the landlord, you must come to court and prove the statements made in the complaint are true. Arrange to have in court any witnesses you need to prove your case. A written statement, even if made under oath, cannot be used in court. Only actual, in-court testimony of the witnesses will be allowed. Prepare your questions in advance.

      Bring to court records of any transactions that may help you prove your case. Such records may include:

Leases, estimates, bills, rent receipt records. Dishonored checks. Letters, photographs. Other documents proving your claim.

If you are able to settle your case with the tenant before the trial date, call the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part immediately.

Tenant

      A tenant does not have to file a written answer, but must come to court and prove that the statements made by the landlord in the complaint are not true. The tenant must also arrange to have in court any witnesses needed to prove their side. A written statement, even if made under oath, cannot be used in court. Only actual testimony of the witnesses will be allowed.

The tenant should bring all applicable records which may include:

Rent receipts, canceled checks. Leases. Letters and notices to or from the landlord. Photographs. Other documents proving your case.

      If the rent was not paid because the landlord did not make necessary repairs, the tenant must prove to the court how serious the problems are and how they are affecting the intended use of the rented premises. If a tenant has not paid the rent, and wants to retain possession, they should bring the amount the landlord claims to court. Only cash, a certified check, or a money order made out to the Court Clerk is acceptable.

THE DAY IN COURT

      Both the landlord and the tenant must come to court at the time and date stated on the complaint unless otherwise notified by the court. Bring all evidence and witnesses needed to present your case. Both the landlord and tenant will be able to present their cases.

      If the court decides in favor of the tenant, the case will be dismissed. If the court decides in favor of the landlord, a "judgement for possession" will be granted. That judgement allows the landlord, within time limits, to have the tenant removed from the premises by a Court Officer.

      If the landlord's complaint is for non-payment of rent and the tenant offers to pay all the rent due plus court costs before or on the day of the court hearing, the landlord must accept the rent and the case will be dismissed. If the landlord doesn't accept the money, it may be deposited with the Clerk of the Special Civil Part. The judgement then will be voided, and the tenant does not have to move out of the premises.

JUDGMENT FOR POSSESSION

      If a landlord is granted judgement for possession, the landlord may apply to the Clerk of the Special Civil Part for a warrant for possession, which allows the landlord to force the tenant to move out of the premises. The fee for a warrant for possession is $15.00 plus double the amount of the mileage fee. The warrant for possession may not be issued until three (3) business days (not counting the court day) after the judgement for possession is granted. The warrant for possession will be issued to a Court Officer to serve on the tenant.

      The Court Officer must give a residential tenant three (3) business days to move all persons and belongings from the premises. If the tenant does not move after three (3) business days from which the warrant for possession was served, the landlord may arrange with the Court Officer to have the tenant evicted or locked out. The Court Officer will tell the landlord the fee charged for an eviction.

      Following the eviction, the landlord must let the tenant remove personal belongings from the premises. A landlord cannot keep a tenant's belongings, but can arrange for their storage.

      A landlord must apply for a warrant for possession within 30 days from the date of the judgement for possession unless the judgement is stopped through a court order or other written agreement signed by the landlord and the tenant.

      A tenant may ask the court for permission to stay in the premises due to special difficulties that moving out may cause. If permission is granted, the tenant may not stay in the premises for more than six months. All rent due ordinarily must be paid for permission to be granted by the court.

THE LAW

2A:42-10.16. Warrant for possession; execution

In any proceeding for the summary dispossession of a tenant, warrant for possession issued by a court of appropriate jurisdiction:

a. Shall include a notice to the tenant of any right to apply to the court for a stay of execution of the warrant, together with a notice advising that the tenant may be eligible for temporary housing assistance or other social services and that the tenant should contact the appropriate county welfare agency, at the address and telephone number given in the notice, to determine eligibility; and
b. Shall be executed not earlier than the third day following the day of personal service upon the tenant by the appropriate court officer. In calculating the number of days hereby required, Saturday, Sunday and court holidays shall be excluded; and
c. Shall be executed during the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., unless the court, for good cause shown, otherwise provides in its judgment for possession.

Whenever a written notice, in accordance with the provisions of subsection 2a., is given to the tenant by the court, this shall constitute personal service in accordance with the provisions of subsection 2b.

The Superior Court, Law Division, Special Civil Part shall retain jurisdiction for a period of 10 days subsequent to the actual execution of the warrant for possession for the purpose of hearing applications by the tenant for lawful relief. L.1974,c.47,s.2; amended 1984,c.180,s.11; 1991,c.91,s.87.

2A:42-10.17. Warrant for removal; disorderly or destructive residential seasonal tenant

The provisions of any other law to the contrary notwithstanding, in any action alleging habitual violation of section 2b. of P.L.1974, c. 49 (C. 2A:18-61.1b.), or violation of section 2c. of P.L.1974, c. 49 (C. 2A:18-61.1c.), brought by a landlord against a tenant to recover possession of any furnished unit leased or rented for seasonal use in any premises of five or fewer units, the court having jurisdiction shall issue a warrant for removal within 2 days from judgment for possession. Such a warrant for removal may be stayed only upon consent by the landlord. For the purposes of this act "seasonal use" means use for a term of not more than 125 consecutive days for residential purposes by a person having a permanent place of residence elsewhere. "Seasonal use" does not mean use as living quarters for seasonal, temporary or migrant farm workers in connection with any work or place where work is being performed. The landlord shall have the burden of proving that the use of the unit is seasonal. L.1979, c. 392, s. 2, eff. Feb. 6, 1980.

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