Charles E. Tempio
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Attorney at Law

Evicting Residential Tenants in New Jersey

Under New Jersey’s Anti-Eviction Act, tenants of residential properties may only be evicted under one of the causes listed in the statute. Each cause, except for non-payment of rent, must be described in detail in a written notice or notices to the tenant prior to filing for eviction.

a.       Non-payment of Rent. If the tenant has not paid rent for one month or more, the landlord may seek to evict the tenant without a prior notice being sent to the tenant.

b.       Disorderly Conduct. If the tenants conduct disrupts the peace and enjoyment of the other tenants living in the house or neighborhood, a landlord must first serve a Notice to Cease on the tenant. If the tenants behavior continues to be disruptive after receiving the Notice to Cease, a landlord must serve a Notice to Quit on the tenant at least three (3) days prior to filing a suit for eviction.

c.        Damage or Destruction to the Property. A tenant may be evicted if he/she has intentionally or by reason of gross negligence caused or allowed destruction or damage to the property. While the landlord does not need to send a Notice to Cease, a Notice to Quit must be served on the tenant at least three (3) days prior to filing suit for eviction.

d.         Substantial Violation or Breach of the Landlord’s Rules and Regulations. If a tenant substantially violates the rules and regulations contained in the written lease between the tenant and landlord, a landlord must serve a Notice to Cease on the tenant. If the tenant continues to violate the rules and regulations after receiving the Notice to Cease, the landlord must serve a Notice to Quit one month before filing suit for an eviction. In addition, any notices must be on or before the start of a new month.

e.       Violation or Breach of Covenants or Agreements Contained in the Lease. If a tenant continues to violate or breach the covenants or agreements contained in the written lease, the landlord must serve the tenant with a Notice to Cease. If the tenant continues to violate the covenants and agreements after receiving the written Notice to Cease AND if the landlord has reserved the right of re-entry in the lease the landlord must serve the tenant with a Notice to Quit at least one month prior to filing the suit for eviction.

f.        Failure to pay rent increase. If a landlord informs the tenant of a rent increase that is reasonable and complies with the municipal ordinances and rent control statutes and the tenant fails to pay the increase, the landlord must serve the tenant with a written Notice to Quit at least one month prior to filing a suit for eviction. The Court will determine if the rent increase is reasonable and in compliance with the ordinances and statutes of the municipality.

g.       Healthy and Safety Violation. A tenant may be evicted if the following conditions apply: (1) The landlord has been required to board up or demolish the property due to health and safety issues and it will financially difficult to fix the violations, (2) The landlord needs to fix health and safety violations and it is not possible to do so while the tenant resides in the property, (3) The landlord needs to correct an illegal occupancy and it is not possible to correct this violation without removing the tenant, and (4) A governmental agency wants to permanently take the property off the rental market.  A Notice to Quit must be served on the tenant at least 3 months before filing for an eviction and the landlord must provide relocation assistance.

h.       The Landlord Wants to Permanently Retire the Property from Residential Use. If the landlord wants to permanently retire the building from residential use and the circumstances under section (g) do not apply, the landlord may file a suit for eviction. A Notice to Quit must be served on the tenant at least 18 months prior to filing the suit and no legal action can be taken until the lease with the tenant expires.

i.         Refusal to Accept Reasonable Changes in the Terms and Conditions of the Lease. When the lease expires, the landlord may propose reasonable but substantial changes to the terms and conditions of the lease. If, after written notice the tenant refuses to accept these changes the landlord must serve a Notice to Quit at least one month prior to filing the eviction action.

j.         Tenant Continuously Fails to Pay Rent or Habitually Pays Late. If a tenant continuously fails to pay rent or habitually pays rent late, the landlord must serve the tenant a Notice to Cease. If the tenant continues to miss rent or pay late, the landlord must serve a Notice to Quit at least one month before filing the eviction action. It is important to note habitual late payments means more than one late payment after serving the Notice to Cease. In addition, the landlord must continue to give the tenant reasonable and sufficient notice when accepting further late payments and that the original Notice to Cease would be waived by the Court without the additional notices.

k.       Conversion to Condominiums, Cooperative or Fee Simple Ownership. If the landlord or owner of a building is converting the property to a condominium, cooperative or fee simple ownership of two or more dwelling units, the landlord may file suit for eviction so long as the landlord complied with all regulations governing conversions of condominiums. The landlord must serve the Notice to Quit at least 3 years before filing a suit for eviction and cannot file suit until the lease expires. The Court may grant the tenant up to five one-year stays if the tenant has not been offered a reasonable opportunity to examine suitable housing. The Court shall not grant more than one-year stay if the landlord provides the tenant a minimum of five-months free rent.

l.         Tenant After Conversion to Condominiums, Cooperative or Fee Simple Ownership.  (1) The landlord may file for eviction, if the owner of a building or mobile home park, which is constructed as or being converted to a condominium, cooperative or fee simple ownership, seeks to evict a tenant or sublessee whose initial tenancy began after the master deed, agreement establishing the cooperative or subdivision plat was recorded, because the owner has contracted to sell the unit to a buyer who seeks to personally occupy it and the contract for sale calls for the unit to be vacant at the time of closing. However, no action shall be brought against a tenant under paragraph one (1) of this subsection unless the tenant was given a statement, informing the tenant that the property is being converted. A Notice to Quit must be served on the tenant at least two months prior to filing suit for eviction. No legal action may be taken until the lease expires. 2) The landlord may file for eviction, if the owner of three or less condominium or cooperative units seeks to evict a tenant whose initial tenancy began, by rental, after the master deed or agreement establishing the cooperative was recorded, because the owner seeks to personally occupy the unit, or has contracted to sell the unit to a buyer who seeks to personally occupy it and the contract for sale calls for the unit to be vacant at the time of closing. A Notice to Quit must be served on the Tenant at least two months prior to filing suit for eviction. No legal action may be taken until the lease expires. 3) The landlord may file for eviction, if the owner of a building with three residential units or less seeks to personally occupy a unit, or has contracted to sell the residential unit to a buyer who wishes to personally occupy it and the contract for sale calls for the unit to be vacant at the time of closing. A Notice to Quit must be served on the Tenant at least two months prior to filing suit for eviction. No legal action may be taken until the lease expires.

m.     Tenancy Based on Employment.  If a tenant resides in the property on the condition that, he is employed by the landlord as a superintendent, janitor or in some other job and that employment is terminated the landlord may file suit for eviction. A Notice to Quit must be served on the tenant three days prior to filing a suit for eviction.

n.       Conviction of a Drug Offense Committed on the Property. The landlord may file suit for eviction, if the tenant, including juveniles who have been found by the Court to be delinquent, has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to drug offenses that took place on the property, and has not in connection with his sentence either (1) successfully completed or (2) been admitted to and continues during probation participation toward completion of a drug rehabilitation program. Also, if the tenant lets a person who has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to drug offenses, occupy the premises for residential purposes whether it is continuously or occasionally, the landlord may file for eviction. This does not apply to a tenant allowing a juvenile to reside at the property where the juvenile has been found to be delinquent due to use or possession of drugs. No eviction suit may be brought more than two years after: the juvenile was found to be delinquent; conviction of the person; or after the person’s release from incarceration whichever is later. A Notice to Quit must be served on the tenant at least three days prior to filing suit for eviction.

o.       Conviction of Assaulting or Threatening the Landlord, His Family or Employees. The landlord may file for eviction, if the tenant has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to, or if a juvenile has been found by the court to be delinquent due to an offense involving assault or terrorist threats against the landlord, a member of the landlord’s family or an employee of the landlord. Also, if the tenant permits a person he knows has been convicted of or has pleaded guilty to these actions to reside at the premises continuously or occasionally, the landlord may file suit for eviction. No eviction suit may be brought more than two years after: the juvenile was found to be delinquent; conviction of the person; or after the person’s release from incarceration whichever is later. A Notice to Quit must be served on the tenant at least three days prior to filing a suit for eviction.

p.       Civil Court Action that Holds Tenant Liable for Involvement in Criminal Activities.  The landlord may file for eviction, if the tenant is found by a civil court proceeding (not criminal) to be liable for involvement in theft of property located on the premises, involvement in assaults or terrorist threats against the landlord, a member of the landlord’s family or an employee of the landlord, or involvement in illegal drug activities that takes place on the premises and that tenant has not in connection with his sentence for the drug offense either (1) successfully completed or (2) been admitted to and continues during probation participation towards completion of a drug rehabilitation program. Also, if the tenant permits a person he knows has been convicted of or has pleaded guilty to these actions, to reside at the premises continuously or occasionally, the landlord may file for eviction. This does not apply to a tenant allowing a juvenile to reside at the property where the juvenile has been found to be delinquent due to the use or possession of drugs. No eviction suit may be brought more than two years after: the juvenile was found to be delinquent; conviction of the person; or after the person’s release from incarceration whichever is later. A Notice to Quit must be served on the tenant at least three days prior to filing suit for eviction.

q. Conviction for Theft of Property. The landlord may file for eviction, if the tenant has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to, or if a juvenile has been found to be delinquent by the Court due to an offense involving theft of property from the landlord or from tenants residing in the same building or complex. Also, if the tenant permits a person he knows has been convicted of or has pleaded guilty to these actions to reside at the premises continuously or occasionally, the landlord may file for eviction. A Notice to Quit must be served on the tenant at least three days prior to filing suit for eviction.

 

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