Landlords must specifically follow an eviction process in New Jersey if they try to evict a tenant in this state.
Our firm is staffed with an experienced NJ real estate attorney expert in eviction matters, helping her clients in multiple scenarios. Whether you are a homeowner or a tenant, our experts are ready to offer you complete legal assistance.
Eviction Process In New Jersey In 2023
Although New Jersey eviction laws vary by court, they follow the same general 5-step process. To do this, the landlord must:
- Submit a written notice to vacate.
- Fill out all the required forms.
- Serve the tenant.
- Appear before trial.
- Wait for the decision at trial.
Eviction matters are generally handled and made by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA).
- The reason each eviction process in New Jersey is different is because it depends on the lease. This contract is signed by the landlord and the tenant.
- It is recommended that landlords try to settle their differences with their tenants outside of court. Therefore, only in extreme cases should one go to court.
If you are seeking legal assistance for these disputes, do not hesitate to contact our NJ landlord tenant lawyer. In addition, our expert is a well-versed NJ real estate litigation attorney, ready to represent her clients in court.
Grounds For Evicting A Tenant In New Jersey
In New Jersey, a landlord can evict a tenant for a number of reasons, the most common being complications in the terms of the lease. The landlord must give the tenant a notice before the official eviction notice stops.
The length of time for this notice depends on the reason for evicting the tenant. Next, we will explain in detail each of these reasons.
1. Violation Of The Lease
The lease must be honored at all times during the tenant’s stay in the property. The terms of the contract may vary from one tenant to another.
Although tenants can be evicted for violating this lease, the landlord must first issue a notice to cease. The notice to cease informs the tenants that they need to resolve their violation.
In the event the tenant fails to resolve the violation, the landlord will have to file an eviction notice. This notice will be for 30 days and the reason for the violation could include:
- Damage to the rental unit.
- Keep pets on a pet-free property.
- Smoking in areas where smoking is not allowed and so on.
If the tenant stays in the property for more than 30 days, then the landlord can continue with the eviction.
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2. Cause Significant Property Damage
If major property damage occurs, tenants will not be allowed to renew their lease. In addition, landlords will have to notify their tenants at least 3 days in advance of possible eviction.
Tenants have no choice during these situations. Therefore, they must leave the premises before the end of the notice period. Said period will be to avoid being evicted.
3. The Rental Property Will Have To Be Sold Or Used For Personal Use
On occasion, a buyer may be interested in purchasing the rental property. If so, they may not want it to be rented. Alternatively, the owner may change their mind and decide to keep the property in its entirety.
Regardless of both scenarios, the landlord has to provide the tenant with a 2-month notice to vacate.
If you are looking for information regarding what you need to buy a house in NJ or selling a house in New Jersey, we have two publications where we explain these procedures step by step.
4. The Lease Does Not Have Renewal At The End Of The Rental Period
New Jersey law states that landlords cannot evict their tenants without good cause. As a result, as long as the tenants do not violate the lease, they will be able to stay until the end of his period of stay in the rental unit.
However, if the tenant stays one day after their lease has ended and there are no renewal arrangements, the landlord can file a notice to vacate. This notice must be in writing and is usually an eviction notice from:
- 7 days. Usually for weekly contracts.
- 30 days. Generally for monthly contracts.
- 90 days. They are usually for annual contracts.
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5. Tenant’s Employment Ends
Employers can often get a rental unit as part of an employer package in the employment contract. However, upon termination of this job, they will also be required to return or vacate the unit.
In these scenarios, the landlord is required to serve the tenant with a 3-day notice to vacate.
This is often similar to what happens when you lose a job before finalizing a mortgage. If this is your case, do not hesitate to read our blog “What happens if I lose my job before closing a mortgage“.
6. Payment and contract unfulfillment
In New Jersey, landlords can evict their tenants for non-payment of rent. However, paying the rent before the tenant is evicted usually stops the eviction process in New Jersey.
- Rents are often considered late one day after their due date.
- There may be a grace period if stated in the rental agreement.
- If a tenant pays their rent late and the landlord agrees, the landlord may have to give a 30-day notice of payment. This notice must be filed before the eviction begins.
- Landlords who do not have a history of accepting back rent are not required to serve any notice.
7. Carry Out Illegal Activities
Landlords may evict tenants found to have engaged in illegal behavior within the unit from the rental unit. To do this, the landlord must give the tenant a 3-day written notice to vacate.
Pursuant to statutes §§ 2A:18-53(c) and 2A:18-61.2(a), landlords must ensure that their tenants do not engage in illegal behavior. Examples of illegal activities in a rental unit include the following:
- Human trafficking.
- Participation, preparation, distribution or consumption of controlled substances.
- Possession of any firearm that is illegal.
8. Disorderly Conduct
Landlords have the right to evict tenants who have displayed disorderly conduct or have disturbed the peace of the establishment.
- This implies if the peace and tranquility of any individual within the unit is disturbed.
- However, landlords must first serve their tenants a notice to cease if they are charged with disorderly conduct.
- This notice informs the tenant that they have to stop committing disorderly conduct in the unit.
- If the tenant does not comply with the notice to cease, then the landlord may file a 3-day notice to vacate.
9. Implied Material or Health Violation
New Jersey law has a building, health, and safety code for homes. If the rental unit violates any of these codes or does not pass proper health and safety inspections, the owner will have the following options:
- Evict Tenants: If the landlord can pay the costs to correct any code violations, then they must vacate the property to allow for these repairs.
- Board up or demolish the property: If compliance is too costly, the rental property must be boarded up or demolished.
- Demolish the property: If the property belongs to the government, then it can be demolished. The reason is to comply with any redevelopment plans in the area.
Regardless of choosing any of these options, the landlord will have to issue a 3-month notice to vacate. This time is considered sufficient for the tenant to vacate the property.
10. The Rental Property Is Converted Into A Condominium
Landlords who are about to convert their property into a condominium or similar must first serve their tenants with a 3-year notice to vacate.
If the tenants continue to live in the property after 3 years from the date the notice was issued, then the landlord can petition to evict the property.
11. Termination Of The Rental
Owners may decide to take the rental property off the market. As a result, this means that the landlord no longer wishes to continue leasing their property.
If so, an 18-month notice must be issued to tenants before filing the eviction.
12. The Tenant Does Not Accept Changes In The Rental Agreement
There are scenarios where the rental agreement between the landlord and the tenant can change. If the modification in lease terms is reasonable, but the tenant refuses to agree to it, then the landlord can file a one-month notice to quit.
How To Evict A Tenant In New Jersey
To evict a tenant in New Jersey, the owner of the rental unit must wait until sufficient time has passed since the eviction notice was issued.
This means that the tenant must be given sufficient time by notice before they can be evicted from the rental unit. Once this is done, the eviction process in New Jersey is as follows:
- Go to court. The landlord will have to go to a court in New Jersey, which will depend on where the rental unit is located.
- Submit a complaint with detailed information. This complaint must show information such as non-payment by the tenant. Some courts require a detailed history of failure to pay.
- Pay the corresponding fees. The amount of the fee may vary by court.
We understand that these procedures can be difficult for homeowners, so full legal advice is recommended. Therefore, our attorney Carolina T. Curbelo is willing to help all of her clients with these processes.
Filing A Notice To Comply
Before filing for an eviction in court, the landlord must give the tenant a notice to comply. Owners can download the notice to comply form online.
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How Much Notice Does A Landlord Have To Give A Tenant To Vacate Property In NJ?
The amount of notice a landlord must give a tenant to vacate will depend on the type of eviction notice issued.
Therefore, these notices can range anywhere from 3 days to 3 years from the issuance of the notice for the tenant to move to another site.
To better understand this, below we explain the average amount of time an eviction process takes in New Jersey, these are:
- Issuance of an official notice: From 3 days to 3 years and must be submitted to the tenant before starting the eviction.
- Court hearing and judgement for possession: From 10 days to 1 month. If the trial is won, the judge will issue a judgment for possession.
- Return of the rental unit: From 3 days to 6 months. Generally, this depends on whether the tenant receives an ordered removal by authorized officials. As a result, the landlord cannot be the one to evict the tenant.
- Issuing and serving of summons and complaint: From a few days to a few weeks.
- Issuance of warrant for removal: 3 days. The tenant will also have 3 days to pay the rent owed.
In conclusion, the answer to how long it takes to be evicted in NJ can range from 3 weeks all the way up to 4 years for a full eviction process to be completed.
How Does The Eviction Process Work In New Jersey?
The eviction process in New Jersey is a judicial process where a tenant is ordered to leave the dwelling or rental unit. Although the landlord can legally evict the tenant, sometimes the tenant may not agree to the request.
Tenants can respond to this situation in court, so it is important to keep good records that can be submitted as evidence in court. This can be crucial in making or breaking any eviction application.
To do this, the following is recommended:
- Have a physical paper record: Because this can be very difficult to possess as it could be damaged, lost, burned, etc. It is recommended to be very careful where you store it.
- Using a PMS: A Property Management System could be useful for keeping everything related to paperwork, including signed documents, rental agreements, videos, images, invoices and others.
- Scan the documents: In order for the documents to be accessible, they must first be scanned. Although this is optional, it is advisable to use it in order to keep the documents in a secure backup.
- Make backup copies: It is advisable to store and make a backup copy of each document obtained. For this, you have to use Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive or any other secure option.
Can A Landlord Evict A Tenant Without Going To Court In NJ?
As a general rule, it is illegal for a landlord to try to evict a tenant without going to court in New Jersey. Therefore, landlords have to win the eviction lawsuit and get a court judgment to evict their tenant.
- It is also illegal for landlords to force their tenants out of the rental unit in any way other than going to court. For example, changing the locks or disconnecting services from public service companies.
- If this occurs, it will be considered a “self-help eviction”.
- Similarly, New Jersey law § 2A:39-1 states that if a landlord attempts to trespass the rental unit, the tenant can sue the landlord. This lawsuit would be for damages.
If you are about to file a lawsuit against your landlord, or want more information about it, we invite you to read our blog “Can I sue my landlord for renting an illegal apartment”.
What Is A Self-Help Eviction?
A self-help eviction is when a rental unit owner tries to evict their tenant on their own, without going to court or legal action. Among the most common examples of this are:
- Changing the locks.
- Disconnection of heating and/or electricity.
- Destroying or vandalizing tenant property.
Also, most states specify the amount of money tenants can sue their landlord for if the landlord has tried to evict them illegally.
In fact, certain states have laws that protect the tenant in these scenarios, providing them with certain help measures, such as:
- Cover their attorney and/or court fees, and
- Allow them to stay in the house.
Practicing illegal activities can be common for unscrupulous individuals, so caution is advised. Now, if you are wondering if you can buy a house in the United States being an illegal immigrant, in our blog, we answer this question in detail.
Can A Tenant Be Made To Vacate The Property In New Jersey?
A landlord may never force a tenant to move out of their rental unit. To do this, the landlord must successfully win an eviction lawsuit and then be able to start the process to evict the tenant.
- Even after winning the eviction lawsuit, the landlord cannot remove the tenant from the property.
- The only person authorized to evict a tenant is a police officer, sheriff, or any other authorized individual.
- New Jersey law has made it illegal for a landlord to personally remove a tenant from the rental unit.
Penalties For Performing A Self-Help Eviction
The New Jersey Civil Code states that the landlord will be responsible for the tenant’s attorneys’ fees and court costs. Additionally, the statute gives the tenant the right to continue living in the property.
Alternatively, a tenant can also sue the landlord for damages and violations. Tenants may request a court order prohibiting any further violation while court action is pending.
Evidence Required To Evict A Tenant During An Eviction Proceeding In New Jersey
In case the tenant has committed violations in the lease or has not paid the rent, the landlord must submit the following evidence to the judge:
- Evidence for violations in the rental agreement. These include:
- Terms in the rental.
- Security cameras.
- Evidence for non-payment. These can be:
- History of all payments.
- The rental contract.
- All messages sent to the tenant. They can be by text message, email, postal mail and others.
- Any refund in payment.
File A Motion To Obtain Judgment And Get Judgment For Possession
The owner must present a solid argument and that it is supported by all the evidences or proofs previously described. In the event the tenant does not appear at the hearing, the landlord will win the lawsuit by default.
However, if the tenant pays all rent owed within 3 business days after the judgment for possession is passed, the eviction process will be stayed.
Documents To Submit For The Eviction Process
In New Jersey, a response from the tenants is not required. They only have to appear before the hearing. In addition, the landlord must support their claim with the following evidence:
- Copy of the NJ property deed and the rental contract.
- Rent receipts.
- Bank statements.
- Other documents, such as evidence of violation of the rental agreement or non-payment.
In our website, we have a large number of blogs that explain the types of key legal records required in any home. For example, the certificate of occupancy in New Jersey or the real estate title.
How Can Our Firm Help You In An Eviction Process In New Jersey?
As we have explained in this blog, landlords cannot evict their tenants without following legal process. If they do this, they would be exposing themselves to serious consequences.
- If you are a property owner in this state, do not hesitate to contact a real estate attorney beforehand to help you understand the steps of this process.
- On the other hand, if you are a tenant who believes you are being evicted illegally, you may also require the services of a real estate attorney.
- Our firm has more than 10 years of experience working on these matters in New Jersey. As a result, we have extensive knowledge that will undoubtedly help our clients understand their due course.
At Curbelo Law, our clients will be in the best possible hands to successfully navigate all of these legal processes. Call, E-mail, or book an appointment with our office, located in Ridgewood, New Jersey, today.