Most tenants cannot be evicted during the pandemic. During this time, tenants are still obligated to pay rent.
Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 106, which may be found online at https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-106.pdf. This order stops landlord-tenant lockouts until two months following the end of the Public Health Emergency or State of Emergency, whichever is later, unless the Governor modifies the Order. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued an order, which declares a national moratorium through December 31, 2020 on certain residential evictions for nonpayment of rent, as well as on other fees or charges. For more information, please refer to FAQ – What is the CDC Moratorium and how can it help me as a tenant?
Currently, the New Jersey public health emergency has been extended through November 25. Right now, tenants cannot be legally locked out until the end of March 21, 2021, at the earliest, pursuant to Executive Order 106. However, the court or a landlord may make a motion to proceed with a lockout before this time if it is necessary “in the interest of justice.” This means that there are very few circumstances when a judge will order a lockout before the end of the governor’s order. In all cases, a landlord must go through the court process and establish one of the grounds for eviction in court before a lockout can occur.
Landlords can still file eviction complaints at this time. The courts have been accepting and processing eviction complaints.A tenant may be served court papers without a trial date, but they will still get notice of a trial at least ten days before any eviction trial. Some landlords are subject to a federal moratorium under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and may have filed an eviction complaint in violation of that law. “For more information, see “Under what circumstances does a landlord have to wait to file an eviction complaint?”
Tenants may receive a notice about a settlement conference. Settlement conferences are VOLUNTARY. You DO NOT have to attend. If you do not attend, a judgment will NOT enter. You will still get a trial date just like everyone else.
Courts are not scheduling any landlord-tenant trials now, unless a judge has determined that the case is an emergency. Nonpayment of rent is not an emergency. A landlord would have to file an Order to Show Cause to get a trial date and demonstrate “emergent circumstances.” Pursuant to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s July 14, 2020 Order, https://www.njcourts.gov/notices/2020/n200715b.pdf?c=qVw, such circumstances may include violence against other tenants, criminal activity, extreme damage to the residence, and death of a tenant resulting in vacancy of the rental unit. The above list is not meant to be exhaustive. The court must take into consideration the circumstances of each case in determining whether a trial is warranted. If you get an “Order to Show Cause to Schedule a Trial,” seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Case information is available on the Judiciary eCourts Public Access System at https://portal.njcourts.gov/webcivilcj/CIVILCaseJacketWeb/pages/publicAccessDisclaimer.faces, where you can search for your case either by your name, your landlord’s name or by docket number. To start your search, select, “Special Civil Part” for the court/division.
(Return to Frequently Asked Questions for Tenants, Hotel/Motel Residents, and Other Occupants During COVID-19)