Charles E. Tempio
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Attorney at Law

Landlord-Tenant Attorney explaining 16 causes of action supporting eviction.           Eviction Notice under the Anti-Eviction Act of New Jersey

1. Failure to pay rent after reasonable increase N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

Failure to pay rent after a valid Notice to Quit provided the increase is not unconscionable and complies with all rent control laws is grounds to evict a tenant. An attempt to increase rents without terminating the tenancy and offering the tenant new terms that encompass the increased rent lacks validity. A month-to-month tenancy, year-to-year tenancy, and any other stated. term tenancy must be terminated before effecting a rental increase. The landlord has the burden to prove that the proposed rent increase is both reasonable and not unconscionable.

A Notice to Quit is required before instituting suit.

2. Disorderly tenant, etc. N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

A disorderly tenant is destructive of the peace and quiet of other residents and neighbors. To prove the disturbance, a landlord may need a tenant to testify against the disorderly tenant to meet the burden. The nature of disturbance typically dictates the evidence required for trial. Whereas noise would be reported by witnesses who can attest to its severity, violence can be proved by its occurrence.

A Notice to Cease is required for this violation. A tenant should not be evicted for these grounds unless they were given a written warning and failed to modify their conduct and disruptive behavior after such warning. A Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession must be served at least 3 days prior to an institution of action.

3. Willful or grossly negligent destruction or damages to premises, etc. N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

In this section, the burden of proof relies on the occurrence of gross negligence; the landlord does not need to prove willful conduct. Destruction to the property is analyzed through physical damages, not intangible annoyances. If a guest was responsible for the physical destruction of the property, and the tenant was evidently unaware of the damage and did not anticipate such, there is no grounds for eviction of the property.

This violation does not require the landlord to provide the tenant with a “second chance” as a Notice to Cease is not needed. The landlord only needs to serve the tenant with a Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession at least three days before the landlord institutes an eviction against the tenant.

4. Substantial breach of landlord’s rules, etc. N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

This violation applies provided the rules and regulations are reasonable and accepted by the tenant in writing or made a part of the lease at the beginning of the lease term. A tenant may cure a violation of the landlord’s rules and regulations even after judgment is entered.

To fulfill the statutory requirements, the landlord must give the tenant a Notice to Cease, a Notice to Quit terminating the tenancy, and a Demand for Possession. The landlord must also wait one month after the Notice to Quit before instituting the action. The landlord must demonstrate that the tenant’s violations continued after the Notice to Cease was served.

5. Substantial violation or breach of covenant or agreement, etc. N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

The covenant must be reasonable and contained in the lease agreement at the beginning of the term for this violation to be applicable. The landlord must reserve a right of re-entry in the lease for such violations to be allowed to evict. The reasonableness of a provision is relative to the context of the particular matter. The landlord does not waive their rights every instance they accept rent without knowledge of an occurring or past violation. All facts and elements must be taken into consideration and the issue of waiver is determined by the intent of the parties. In addition, the violation must be substantial to warrant an eviction of property.

The tenant must be given a Notice to Cease, a notice to Quit, and a Demand for Possession. The landlord must wait one month before instituting a suit. The Notice must contain specific details of the violation.

6. Resident or occupant guilty of provision of Drug Reform Act N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

A landlord may seek eviction where a tenant has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to an offense under the “Comprehensive Drug Reform Act". The tenant’s act must involve the use, possession, manufacture, dispensing, or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or paraphernalia within or upon the leased premises or complex. In addition, this cause requires that the tenant has not successfully completed or been admitted to and continued upon probation while completing a drug rehabilitation program. Tenants who knowingly harbor a person who has been convicted or so pleaded, unless that person is a minor, are also liable. The conspiracy to commit the offense is not sufficient for this cause of action.

A Notice to Cease is not required for this section. The landlord must serve a Notice to Quit 3 days before instituting an eviction action. A Demand for Possession must also be served to the tenant.

7. Resident or occupant guilty of Assault or Terroristic Threats N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

A tenant may be evicted if they have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to an offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1 or N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3 involving terroristic threats or assault against the landlord, the landlord’s family, or the landlord’s agent. The harboring of persons who have committed or pleaded guilty to such is also prohibited under this cause of action.

The landlord must serve the tenant a Notice to Quit at least three days before instituting an eviction action and make a Demand for Possession.

8. Resident or occupant found in civil hearing to have violated N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1 (assault), 2C:12-3 (terroristic threats), 2C:20-1 (theft) or 2C:35-1 (drugs) N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

With a preponderance of evidence, if the landlord can establish that the tenant committed an offense under the Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987, violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(assault), 2C:12-3 (terroristic threats), 2C:20-1 (theft) or 2C:35-1 (drugs) N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1, the landlord may enter a judgment for possession. The landlord can remove the tenant without the need for a guilty verdict or plea in criminal court. The tenant must also have tangible knowledge of the alleged illegal activity.

A 3-day Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession must be served upon the tenant.

9. Resident or occupant is found guilty of Theft (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-1) N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

A landlord has grounds to evict a tenant if they are convicted of or plead guilty to an offense in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-1, or if a juvenile has been adjudicated to have committed an offense in violation of this statute. It may also be applicable if the tenant is harboring a person who has committed such.

A three-day Notice to Quit is required. A demand for Possession must follow the notice served to the tenant.

10. Permanent boarding up or demolition, etc. N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

The requirements of the relocation laws, N.J.S.A. 52:31B-1, must be met before a warrant may issue. In this section, the landlord seeks (1) to board up the premises because substantial violations of law exist which are economically unfeasible to eliminate or unfeasible to eliminate without removing the tenant; (2) to eliminate an illegal occupancy which cannot be corrected without removing the tenant; (3) a governmental agency seeks to retire the premises for urban renewal or land clearance. Evictions involving displacement caused directly or indirectly by government action are permitted but must be conditioned upon the provision of relocation assistance. Under the Act, relocation assistance is supposed to be paid to the displaced tenants by (1) finding substitute housing; (2) cash payments; (3) replacement housing. If the landlord caused illegal occupancy, the landlord should pay the relocation assistance. An eviction with these grounds requires the landlord to “reimburse” the tenant for relocation expenses in an amount “equal to” six times the monthly rent.

A Notice to Cease is not required, but a Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession must be served 3 months prior to the institution of action.

11. Permanent retirement of building from housing market N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

If the Owner seeks to permanently retire the building or the mobile home park from the residential housing market, it cannot be used as a means to bypass the relocation requirement. N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1a through 2A:18-61.1f provides a procedure that must be followed in order to retire a building or unit from the residential market and substantial penalties for non-compliance of the former. The entire building must be retired from the market; a portion is not sufficient. Failure to comply procedurally is terminal to an application to remove the building and failure to complete the removal is subject to penalty. Damages are governed under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.7.

A Notice to Cease is not Required, but a Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession must be served 18 months prior to institution of action.

12. Residential lessee’s refusal to accept reasonable changes in substance of terms and conditions of lease N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

At the termination of the lease, if the landlord proposes substantive changes within the conditions of the lease, including a modification of the term thereof, and the tenant refuses to accept after written notice, the landlord may have grounds to evict the tenant. The sole requirement for the landlord is that their changes be reasonable. Before the tenant can argue estoppel or waiver, the landlord should serve a notice to evict them immediately after tenant violates terms of a new accepted lease agreement. Reasonableness is defined through subjective analysis and is contingent of the individual matter. The matter will be dismissed if a tenant refuses to accept then eventually accepts. A lease change can also be made to comply with local housing codes.

A Notice to Cease is not required for this cause of eviction. A Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession must be served 1 month prior to the institution of action.

13. Habitual failure to pay rent N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

After a written Notice to Cease has been served, a tenant may be evicted if they habitually fail to pay rent on time. This cause is intended to protect the landlord against tenants who consistently pay their rent outside of the allotted time frame. N.J.S.A. 2A:42-6.1 provides a five-day grace period to persons receiving railroad retirement pensions, social security, or other governmental benefits; this may affect a claim of habitual late payment of rent. To constitute a late payment, the lease must be consulted to determine the due date of the rent and when it would be considered late. In addition, any grace period in the lease is controlling. This cause of action will be successful with removing the tenant if reason to evict is clearly necessary. For the cause of action of “habitual” lateness to be established, the tenant must make at least two late payments after the Notice to Cease. The Notice to Cease should be actively enforced and there should not be an extreme amount of time between this notice and the termination notice. Failure of the landlord to demonstrate intent of eviction may result in a dismissal of the matter. To prevent the tenant from believing that the landlord is accepting of late payment, each late payment must result in a Notice to Cease.

The Notice to Cease should be specifically detailed and written. The Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession must be served 1 month prior to the institution of action.

14. Conversion to condominium N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

To qualify under this cause of action the landlord must provide the tenant with notice of intention to convert and the entire conversion plan. The tenant must also be informed of their right to purchase the unit and that this right is exclusive for ninety days. In addition, the landlord must file a complete plan of conversion with the local municipality.

A Notice to Cease is not required for this cause of action. After all notice requirements are met, the landlord may evict a tenant with three years notice to quit. After three years the eviction suit can be filed, but the tenant is eligible for a maximum of three one-year stays. If the landlord does not act efficiently after the three-year notice period ends, they may waive their right to pursue and fulfill the eviction. The tenant has the right to ask for comparable housing within eighteen months of the notice or five months' rent to cover moving expenses. The tenant may not seek the other if a landlord offers one of the previous options.

15. Owner seeks to personally occupy unit of building of 3 units or less or sells building to one who seeks to personally occupy unit N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

Eviction under this cause is warranted if an owner of three units or less seeks to occupy the unit or has contracted to sell the unit to a buyer who wishes to occupy it granted the contract calls for it to be vacant at the time of closing. The landlord’s desire to evict a tenant for the purpose of expanding a business does not apply. It must be personally occupied as a residential unit. The landlord must be cautious of protecting his right to proceed at the commencement of a tenancy. Furthermore, if a landlord arbitrarily fails to personally occupy the unit, then the tenant may sue for treble damage. If applicable, the burden is on the landlord to prove that his failure to occupy was not arbitrary.

A two-month Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession is sufficient for the tenant’s removal.

16. Termination of tenancy conditioned upon employment N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1

If the landlord conditioned the tenancy upon the tenant’s employment as superintendent, janitor, or in some other capacity and such employment is being terminated, eviction of the tenant is permitted. Eligibility under this cause requires that the employment and tenancy are simultaneously created.

A Notice to Cease is not required. However, a Notice to Quit must be served to the tenant at least three days before instituting an eviction action. The landlord must also make a Demand for Possession.

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