NJ Eviction Laws Basics
To evict a tenant in NJ, a landlord must go through the courts, as required by NJ landlord-tenant laws. While every eviction is unique, the general process is giving the tenant proper notice, filing the eviction paperwork with the court, serving the tenant, attending the trial, and waiting for the judgment outcome.
Although evictions can happen for various reasons, the process can also depend on the lease agreement signed between the parties.
You can contact the Department of Community Affairs for more information about NJ eviction laws. They also have numerous programs to help tenants avoid eviction.
How Long Does It Take To Evict a Tenant in NJ?
It typically takes between 2 to 4 months to evict a tenant in NJ. However, timelines vary greatly, and you can potentially evict a tenant in under two months, or it could take over a year. The more evidence you have, the shorter the process could get.
Evicting a tenant takes time and patience. The process can get tiresome, especially for landlords who own multiple properties.
When Can You Evict Someone in NJ?
A landlord needs to have probable cause to evict a tenant in NJ. That means the tenant must have violated their lease terms or committed another offense for a landlord to be able to evict them. Here are some of the eviction grounds which a tenant could get evicted for in NJ:
1. Failure to Pay Rent
The most common reason to evict someone in NJ is failure to pay rent. It’s also one of the easiest reasons to proceed, as the landlord is not required to send a notice before filing the eviction paperwork.
2. Disorderly Conduct
Another reason to evict someone is disorderly conduct. In the case of disorderly conduct, the landlord will usually need to send the tenant a Notice to Cease. If not respected and the tenant’s actions continue to disrupt the lives of other tenants or neighbors, the landlord may file for eviction.
3. Damage or Destruction to the Property
Another reason to evict a tenant in NJ is damage or destruction of property. In this case, a notice to quit will need to be served to the tenant three days before the eviction is filed.
NJ Eviction Process
- Give the Tenant Notice
- File the Complaint
- Serve the Tenant
- Wait for the Tenant’s Reply
- Go To Trial
- Ask For Possession
- Take Possession of the Property
1. Give the Tenant Notice
The first step in the NJ eviction process is to give the tenant notice. Depending on why you’re evicting them, you’ll either serve them with a Notice to Quit or a Notice to Comply. However, if you are evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent, you can skip this step (unless they live in federally subsidized housing).
2. File the Complaint
The next thing you’ll need to do to evict a tenant is to file the complaint with the court. Depending on the reason for eviction, you’ll need to wait for enough time must pass before filing a complaint.
The complaint will include significant details about the situation (e.g., the tenant did not pay the rent). In some cases, the court might ask for access to the payment records, so you must be prepared with the evidence before filing the complaint with the court.
3. Serve the Tenant
Serving the tenant (which essentially means delivering the complaint) is the next thing you’ll need to do to evict them, and it can be done through various means. You can serve the eviction papers through a Special Civil Part Officer or a process server. This official can opt for either personal delivery, mailing, posting, or Substituted Service.
Substituted Service delivers the papers when the tenant is not available or present at the address. In this case, the documents may be left in possession of any other person over the age of 14 who lives with the tenant.
4. Wait for the Tenant’s Reply
After you serve the eviction papers to the tenant, they will have some time to respond. If they are behind on rent, and you filed an eviction for non-payment of rent, they can pay the past due rent to prevent the eviction from happening.
5. Go To Trial
After the tenant responds, it’s time to go to the eviction trial. At the trial, you and the tenant will both state your cases. To give yourself the best chance of winning, you’ll need to be ready to present all the evidence. The stronger documentation for the eviction, the higher the possibility of winning.
6. Ask for Possession
Once the trial ends and a verdict is rendered, you’ll still need to file a motion asking for possession of the property.
If the tenant fails to present at the court hearing, the landlord automatically wins the case via a default judgment and can ask for possession. Once a landlord has a court document giving them possession, the tenant can legally be removed from the property.
7. Take Possession of the Property
If the tenant does not appeal the judgment, a warrant for removal will be issued 3 days after the judgment is rendered. This gives the tenant 3 days to vacate the property. If they do not leave the property at this time, the local sheriff can come and physically remove the tenant.
How To Evict a Tenant in NJ With No Lease
A tenant with no lease still has the same rights as any other tenant as long as they have been living at the property for at least 30 days. As a landlord, you need to have a good reason to want to evict someone, even if they have no lease.
Although you’ll still need to go through the court and follow the formal NJ eviction process, evicting a tenant with no lease is typically faster.
Can a Landlord In NJ Evict You Without Going To Court?
No, a NJ landlord cannot evict you without getting a court order. If a landlord tries to lock you out or evict you without getting an eviction judgment, it’s called a self-help eviction. Self-help evictions (such as changing the locks, vandalizing the tenant’s property, or cutting access to heat or water) are illegal and punished according to the laws.
NJ Eviction Laws Bottom Line
All in all, the NJ eviction process is time-consuming and can also be expensive (if you hire a lawyer). Before you file a complaint, discuss it with the tenant and see if you can come up with a solution. However, if the situation can only be resolved legally, you must follow the steps mentioned above as required by NJ landlord-tenant laws. You must go through the court to evict a tenant in NJ, and it is illegal to evict a tenant without an official judgment. Whatever you do, don’t try to take matters into your own hands.