The New Jersey one (1) month lease termination letter is required to be served to month-to-month and other “at-will” tenants before the landlord terminates the rental agreement. The notice provides the tenant with one full month to vacate the rental property. …
New Jersey Eviction Notices
A New Jersey eviction notice informs the tenant of a rental property that their landlord will terminate the lease if they do not pay rent or comply with the landlord’s demands by a certain date. If the renter hasn’t paid rent and there is no pattern of late rent being accepted, the landlord doesn’t need to give any notice before filing an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. Evictions for all other causes will require three (3) to thirty (30) days’ notice to comply or quit. In some instances, a written warning to pay rent or cease non-compliance must be issued before a notice to quit can be served.
How to Evict a Tenant (Process)
All evictions in the State of New Jersey must have “good cause.” There are numerous examples of grounds for eviction, such as non-payment of rent, disorderly conduct, property damage, and lease violations (for more examples and information on grounds for eviction click here). Unless the tenant is being evicted for non-payment of rent, the landlord must give the tenant notice before filing an eviction action. Furthermore, the landlord cannot evict a tenant without first obtaining a court order, and even then, the tenant can only be legally removed only by a law enforcement officer.
Step 1 – Notice to Quit or Lease Termination Letter
When giving a tenant notice, the landlord must serve them with either a Notice to Quit or a Lease Termination Letter, depending on the situation. The termination letter is only used to end a month-to-month rental agreement and requires no justification for being served. A tenant who has damaged property, engaged in illegal activity, threatened the landlord, or committed disorderly conduct, must receive at least three (3) days notice before an eviction action can be filed. If the tenant has failed to pay rent, no notice is required and the landlord can immediately terminate the rental agreement. However, if the tenant has habitually paid rent late, engaged in disorderly conduct, or committed lease violations, the landlord will need to serve them a Notice to Cease (see example) which constitutes a written warning. After being served the Notice to Cease, if a lessee continues to be non-compliant or not pay rent on time, the landlord can serve them a thirty (30) day Notice to Quit.
When filling out the Notice to Quit, the landlord must indicate the reason for issuing the notice by checking the appropriate checkbox and providing the requested information. Once the form has been completed, a photocopy of the document should be kept in the landlord’s records.
Step 2 – Serve the Notice to Tenant
The notice must be served personally by the landlord or sent by mail with return receipt. If the tenant is not in their residence at the time of service, the notice may be given to any other occupant of the domicile who is at least fourteen (14) years old. Once the landlord has delivered the notice, they must complete the “Certificate of Service” section of their copy to demonstrate proof of service.
Step 3 – Complaint and Summons
They will need to file a Complaint and a Summons form. The Complaint describes the specific action that the landlord is seeking against the tenant and the nature of their rental agreement. The Summons will provide the scheduled date and time of the eviction hearing. This document will be completed by the Clerk of Court’s office and the landlord only needs to provide the name, telephone number, and address for themselves (the Plaintiff) and the tenant (the Defendant).
Step 4 – File Forms With Clerk
If the tenant has not moved out or cured their violation by the time that the notice period has expired, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit in the Office of the Special Civil Part Clerk of the county where the rental property is located. In addition to the Complaint and Summons forms, the landlord must bring a copy of their lease agreement, the Notice to Cease (if applicable), the Notice to Quit, and any other documents that support their case. The basic filing fee for a Complaint is $50, but the final cost will include fees for they copying and serving of court documents, in addition to court costs if the case goes to trial (see pages four (4) and five (5) of the fee schedule).
Step 5 – Serve Complaint and Summons
The court will serve the tenant a copy of the Complaint and the Summons. The date of the hearing will be at least ten (10) days from the Complaint’s filing date. To contest the case, the tenant must present themselves at the hearing. If the tenant fails to attend the court date, the judge will issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord.
Anytime leading up to the hearing date, the tenant and landlord can settle the eviction a. The settlement must be in writing and the landlord must request the court to dismiss their Complaint.
Step 6 – Attend Trial
The landlord must attend the court hearing or else the complaint may be dismissed. The judge will review the details of the case and listen to testimony from both the landlord and the tenant. If the judge rules that the eviction should occur, a Judgment for Possession will be issued which mandates that the tenant leave the rental property within three (3) business days or be forcibly removed. Furthermore, they will be made to pay any monetary penalties that the Complaint demands. In the event that the tenant wins the case, the eviction suit will be dismissed.
Step 7 – Remove Tenant
If the tenant refuses to leave the property after a Judgment for Possession has been issued, the landlord may contact local law enforcement to have the tenant ejected from the property. Following the eviction, the tenant must be given thirty-three (33) days to collect any belongings that they left behind. The landlord must deliver the tenant a notice informing them of how to reclaim their belongings and is permitted to charge a fee for storage costs. After the notice period has elapsed, the landlord may sell or dispose of the tenant’s property as they see fit.