New Jersey Eviction Process

Last Updated: November 2, 2021 by Elizabeth Souza

Timeline. Evicting a tenant in New Jersey can take around  three weeks to four months, depending on the reason for the eviction. Evictions due to condominium conversions and sale/personal use of the rental unit may take 18 months to three years or more (read more).

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Introduction. New Jersey evictions must be court ordered and a landlord must obtain a judgment for possession before a tenant is evicted. There must be legal reason or “good cause” to end the tenancy, if there is no legal reason the landlord must wait until the end of tenancy. Below are the individual steps of the eviction process in New Jersey.

Step 1: Notice is Posted

Landlords in New Jersey can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:

  1. Nonpayment of Rent – Landlords may not be required to provide tenants with written notice, depending on how often they have failed to pay rent.
  2. Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease/rental agreement, the landlord must first give tenants a Notice to Cease before they can be given a Notice to Quit.
  3. No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – This reason for eviction is only valid under New Jersey law if the landlord occupies the rental property AND the rental property has no more than three rental units.
  4. Disorderly Conduct – If the tenant prevents other tenants/residents in the neighborhood from peacefully enjoying their residences, the tenant may be evicted.
  5. Negligence/Property Damage – If the tenant is negligent or causes property damage to the rental unit, they must receive written notice prior to being evicted.
  6. Housing Violations – If the rental unit fails to meet health/safety codes, landlords must give tenants notice prior to evicting them.
  7. Discontinuance of Use – If the rental property will no longer be used as a rental property, tenants must receive written notice prior to being evicted.
  8. Failure to Accept Lease Changes – If the tenant refuses to accept “reasonable” changes to the lease, they can be evicted after proper written notice.
  9. Condominium Conversion – If the rental unit is going to be converted to condos/another type of cooperative ownership, tenants must receive written notice prior to eviction.
  10. Personal Use/Sale – If the owner wants to live in the rental property themselves or sell it to someone who intends to live in it, tenants must receive notice prior to being evicted.
  11. Termination of Employment – If rental housing was included as part of the tenant’s employment, and that employment is terminated, tenants must receive written notice prior to eviction.
  12. Illegal Activity – If a tenant is engaged in illegal activity, they must receive prior notice before the landlord can evict them.
NOTES
  • Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for joining, supporting, or organizing a tenant organization or union.
  • Evicting a Squatter. If the individual occupying the property did not have the permission of the landlord when initially moving in, does not have a lease (or verbal agreement) and has no history of paying rent, then a landlord/tenant relationship may not be established and landlords would file a Writ of Possession action (read more).

Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.

Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent

A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.

According to New Jersey law, rent is considered late the day after it’s due; grace periods (if any) are addressed in the lease or rental agreement. Landlords are not required  to give tenants written notice before moving forward with an eviction action for nonpayment of rent, unless tenants have a history of failing to pay rent on time. Then landlords must give them 30 days’  notice prior to filing an eviction action with the court.

Senior citizens, however, must be given a five day grace period to pay rent after it’s due before a landlord can proceed with the eviction process.

NOTES

Rent Increases. Nonpayment of rent also includes rent increases in which the tenant has received a notice of the increase, the rent increase was for a reasonable amount, and the tenant refuses to pay the higher amount.

Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement

A tenant can be evicted in New Jersey if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the terms of a written lease or rental agreement.

Before New Jersey landlords can give tenants a Notice to Quit, they must first give them a Notice to Cease, telling the tenant to correct the violation and stop the behavior.

If the tenant doesn’t comply with the Notice to Cease, landlords must provide tenants with a 30-Day Notice to Quit, giving the tenant 30 days to move out in order to avoid eviction.

Typical lease violations under this category could include things like having too many people residing in the rental unit, and having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy.

Note that illegal activity is not included in this category.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease

In the state of New Jersey, landlords may only evict tenants for “holding over,” or staying in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, if the landlord not only owns, but also occupies, the rental premises, AND there are no more than three rental units on the premises.

“Holding over” includes tenants without a written lease and week-to-week and month-to-month tenants.

The amount of time required in the notice depends on the type of tenancy.

  • Week-to-Week – If rent is paid on a week-to-week basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Quit.
  • Month-to-Month – If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
  • Year-to-Year – If the tenancy is from year to year, landlords must provide tenants with a 90-Day Notice to Quit.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Disorderly Conduct

A tenant can be evicted in New Jersey for being “disorderly” to the point that other tenants’ peaceable enjoyment of the rental property is ruined. This can even extend to peaceable enjoyment of anyone else living in the neighborhood, even if they don’t live on the rental property.

Tenants must first be given a written Notice to Cease, warning them to stop the behavior, before the landlord can give them a Notice to Quit.

If the tenant continues to be “disorderly” after receiving the Notice to Cease, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Quit, giving the tenant three days to move out of the rental unit in order to avoid eviction.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Negligence / Property Damage

A tenant can be evicted in New Jersey if they are grossly negligent or willfully cause property damage to the rental unit.

Landlords are required to provide tenants in these instances with a 3-Day Notice to Quit, giving the tenant three days to move out of the rental unit.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may move forward with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Housing Violations

When landlords have been cited by government officials for having a rental property that violates health and safety codes or can’t pass a required health and safety inspection, they have the following options:

  • Landlords can board up or demolish the rental property if complying with the health and safety codes is too expensive.
  • They can remove tenants to do the repair work necessary to bring the rental property up to health and safety code requirements or to correct a zoning violation.
  • Or, if it’s a government-owned property, it can be demolished as part of a blighted area redevelopment plan.

In all three instances, landlords are required to provide tenants with three months’ notice prior to beginning the eviction process.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Discontinuance of Use of Rental Property

If a landlord no longer wishes to rent out the rental unit, and is going to permanently remove it from the rental market, they must give tenants 18 months’ notice prior to beginning the eviction process.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Failure to Accept Lease Changes

A tenant can be evicted in New Jersey if they refuse to accept reasonable lease changes for a new lease term.

In these instances, landlords are required to provide tenants with one month’s notice prior to beginning an eviction action.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may continue with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Condominium Conversion

A tenant can be evicted in New Jersey if the owner wishes to convert the rental property into condominiums or some other form of cooperative ownership.

In these instances, landlords are required to provide their tenants with three years’ notice prior to beginning the eviction process.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Personal Use or Sale of Rental Property

If landlords want to sell the rental property to a buyer who intends to live on the property, or if the current owner wants to live in the rental property instead of renting it, they must give tenants two months’ prior written notice.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Termination of Employment

For tenants who received a rental unit as part of their employment, but their employment is now terminated, the landlord must provide them with three days’ notice prior to beginning the eviction process.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Illegal Activity

Tenants who are involved in illegal activity must be given three days’ notice before the landlord can proceed with an eviction action.

In New Jersey, illegal activity includes:

  • Use, possession, manufacture, distribution or dispensing of a controlled dangerous substance or “analog”.
  • Use, possession, manufacture, distribution, dispensing of drug paraphernalia.
  • Assault or “terroristic” threats against the landlord or landlord’s family and agents.
  • Theft from landlord or tenants rental property.
  • Human trafficking on the rental premises.
  • Prostitution on the rental premises.

Note that tenants involved in prostitution on the rental premises may have different notice requirements than for other types of illegal activity.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served

As the next step in the eviction process, New Jersey landlords must file a complaint in ta special civil part of the Superior Court. In the state of New Jersey, the filing fee is $50.

The summons and complaint may be served on the tenant by a Special Civil Part Officer prior to the hearing through one of the following methods:

  1. Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
  2. Leaving a copy with someone residing with the tenant who is over the age of 14;
  3. Posting a copy at the rental unit; or
  4. Mailing a copy via regular AND certified mail (only if all other service methods fail).

A few days to a few weeks, depending on the service method.

Step 3: Court Hearing and Judgment

The eviction hearing will be held 10-30 days after the date the summons is issued by the court.

If the tenant fails to appear for the hearing, the judicial officer may issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord, meaning the tenant will have to move out. If the landlord fails to appear, the case will be dismissed.

NOTES

Nonpayment of Rent. Tenants can pay the full amount of rent owed within three business days of the date the judgment is issued in favor of the landlord in order to avoid eviction.

Even if the judicial officer rules in the landlord’s favor, as long as tenants pay all past-due rent in full, landlords are required to accept the payment and stop the eviction process.

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, either through a default judgment or at an eviction hearing, a warrant for removal will be issued and the eviction process will continue.

10-30 days. The eviction hearing must be held at least 10 days, but no more than 30 days, after the date the summons was issued by the court.

Step 4: Warrant for Removal Is Issued

The warrant for removal is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit and gives them the opportunity to remove their belongings before Special Civil Part Officers return to the property to forcibly remove the tenant. The landlord must obtain a judgement for possession from the court before an officer can evict a tenant.

If the court has ruled in the landlord’s favor, the landlord will ask the court to issue a warrant for removal. The warrant will be issued three business days after the ruling in favor of the landlord.

Three business days after the ruling in favor of the landlord is issued.

Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned

In New Jersey, evictions may be scheduled as soon as three business days after the warrant for removal is issued.

However, tenants can request an order for “orderly removal,” which would automatically give the tenant seven days to move out if granted by the judicial officer, or they may request a “hardship to stay” for up to six months, . The tenant may only apply if all late payments are made to the landlord.

Approximately three days. The tenant has three business days to move out of the rental unit once the warrant for removal has been issued. If the court grants a stay of execution or an “orderly removal,” this will add more time to the process.

New Jersey Eviction Process Timeline

Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in New Jersey. With that being said, these estimates can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.

  1. Initial Notice Period – Between 3 days and 3 years, depending on the notice type and reason for eviction.
  2. Issuance/Service of Summons and Complaint – A few days to a few weeks, depending on the service method.
  3. Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – 10-30 days after the date the summons is issued by the court.
  4. Issuance of Warrant for Removal – Three business days after the ruling is issued in favor of the landlord.
  5. Return of Possession – Three business days after the warrant is issued; longer if an order for “orderly removal” or a stay is granted.
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Additional Information

Tenant’s Defenses Against an Eviction. There are laws to protect a tenant against an unlawful eviction. Below are some common examples of tenant’s defenses:

  • Tenants shall not be removed or evicted from the premises unless it is court ordered and carried out by the special civil part officer.
  • The rental property must be safe and habitable. In New Jersey, this is known as the Marini Doctrine.
  • Tenants cannot be evicted because of their gender, national origin, race, family status disability, or religion.
  • Proper notice was not served to the tenant.
  • Landlords who are limited liability companies (LLC), limited partnerships (LLP), or corporations are prohibited to file an eviction lawsuit without an attorney.
  • If the landlord does not live on the premises or the property includes more than three units, the property must be registered with the Bureau of Housing Inspection. If the property is not registered, the case may be dismissed or delayed because the landlord cannot prove that the property is not registered.
  • The judge may decide to grant the tenant an “abatement”, meaning the tenant does not owe the full amount of rent because of a problem with the property. For example, the tenant is paying for a two bedroom rental unit but one of the bedrooms has no windows and isn’t a real room.

Disposal of Abandoned Property After the Eviction. A landlord may dispose of a tenant’s personal property after giving written notice sent via certified mail and with a return receipt requested. After 30 days after the delivery of notice (or 33 days after the date of mailing the notice, whichever comes first) is when property is considered as abandoned. The landlord may charge the tenant a storage fee and sell the property through a public or private sale. Property may be disposed if the landlord determines that the value of the property is so low that storage cost would exceed the amount that would be sold.

Disposal of Abandoned Property After the Eviction for Mobile or Manufactured Homes. The same rules apply as the above, except after 75 days after the delivery of notice (or 78 days after the date of mailing the notice, whichever comes first) is when property is considered as abandoned. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles and to any lienholders with interest in the property.

Flowchart of New Jersey Eviction Process

For additional questions about the eviction process in New Jersey, please refer to the official legislation, New Jersey Revised Statutes §46:8-8, §§2A:18-56 to 2A:18-61.2, and §§2A:42-6.1 to 2A:42-10.1, for more information.