Evictions During the Pandemic
If you are a landlord in New Jersey, you should know that non-paying residential tenants cannot be evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many landlords have gone months waiting for payment from their tenant. Some have been forced into not paying their own mortgages for lack of funding. Under Governor Murphy’s latest executive order, a tenant cannot be removed by warrant from the landlord’s premises prior to January 1, 2022.
New Jersey Supreme Court has recently announced that landlord tenant matters will be subject to mandatory online settlement conferences for certain select cases. The conferences are an attempt to resolve cases without a trial. They are expected to begin sometime in July and continue throughout the remainder of the year. Priority will go to the oldest pending cases with the most unpaid rent and any newly filed cases where more than 12 months’ rent is owed.
The settlement conferences will be held primarily in a remote format; however, judges always have the discretion to schedule mandatory in-person conferences based on the individual circumstances of a case. If the landlord does not appear at the mandatory settlement conference, the complaint will be dismissed, and the landlord will need to refile a new eviction complaint. If the tenant does not appear, the Court, if satisfied with the landlord’s proofs, can enter a Judgment of Possession, which grants the landlord the right to evict. However, the warrant to remove the tenant from the property would be stayed until January 2022. In other words, nothing will happen to that tenant until the beginning of next year.
While the re-opening of the Courts to these types of disputes is helpful, the process does not necessarily give the landlord any financial relief for non-paying tenants. A landlord who wishes to collect the outstanding rent monies from the tenant must still file a separate lawsuit to collect the monies due and owing.
For more information about either evictions or collection lawsuits, contact the attorneys at Weiss, Tom & Trapanese, LLC.