A landlord must follow specific rules and procedures when attempting to evict a tenant in New Jersey. One of the first procedures in evicting a tenant is for the landlord to terminate the lease or rental agreement. In some cases, the landlord must give the tenant notice before terminating the lease. In other cases, the landlord can proceed directly to court to file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
This article will explain the rules and procedures landlords must follow when evicting a tenant in New Jersey.
To terminate a tenancy early in New Jersey, a landlord must have cause, or a legal reason. The most common reasons for a landlord to end a tenancy early are when the tenant fails to pay rent, violates the lease or rental agreement, or commits an illegal act on the premises. In most of these cases, the landlord must provide the tenant with notice. The type of notice required (or not required) will depend on the reason for the termination.
For a more complete list, see New Jersey Stat. Ann. § § 2A:18-53(c) and 2A:18-61.2(a).
If a landlord does not have a legal reason to evict a tenant, then the landlord must wait until the end of the tenancy before expecting the tenant to move. However, depending on the type of tenancy, the landlord may still need to provide the tenant with a written notice to move.
If the landlord wishes to end a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord must give the tenant a written one-month notice. This notice must state that the tenancy will end at the end of the month, and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time. At the end of the month, if the tenant has not moved out of the rental unit, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant on the grounds that the tenant is a holdover tenant (see New Jersey Stat. Ann. § 2A:18-56(b)). New Jersey Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has more information.
If the tenant has a fixed-term lease or rental agreement, such as for one year or six months, then the landlord does not need to give the tenant any kind of notice to move, unless the terms of the lease specifically require it. The landlord can expect the tenant to move by the end of the lease term. If the tenant does not move out by the end of the lease term, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
Even though a landlord may feel that an eviction is justified, a tenant may still decide to fight the eviction. This could delay the eviction and increase the costs of the lawsuit. The tenant could have several valid defenses against the eviction, including the landlord failing to follow proper eviction procedures or the landlord discriminating against the tenant.Tenant Defenses to Evictions in New Jersey has more information.
The only way a landlord can remove a tenant from a rental unit is by winning an eviction lawsuit. Even after winning the lawsuit, the landlord is not the one who will actually remove the tenant. This is done by a law enforcement officer. It is illegal for a landlord to force a tenant to move out of a rental unit, and the tenant can sue the landlord who tries. Illegal Eviction Procedures in New Jersey has more information on illegal evictions.
The landlord may find that the tenant has left personal property at the rental unit after the tenant has moved out. Before disposing of the property, the landlord must first notify the tenant of the property. To do this, the landlord must send the tenant notice through the mail (either certified mail or receipted first class) informing the tenant that the tenant has 33 days to claim the property or the landlord will dispose of it. If the tenant does not claim the property during the appropriate time frame, then the landlord can either sell the property or dispose of it. The landlord can also charge the tenant for the storage costs of the property during this time (see New Jersey Stat. Ann. § § 2A:18-72 through 2A:18-84).
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by New Jersey law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.