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LAW Home > Legal Topics > Housing > Homelessness Prevention and Rental Assistance

Rental Assistance Programs: Where to Look and What to Do if a Landlord Does Not Comply


If you fell behind on your rent due to a temporary setback or if your rent is no longer affordable, it is important to look into resources that can help. Here are some:

  • Department of Community Affairs (DCA). DCA has programs that may help with rent and homelessness prevention,, electric and heating costs,, and water bills,

  • Emergency Assistance (EA). EA is a program provided through your county or municipal welfare agency that provides emergency shelter, pays back rent, pays temporary rental assistance, and can help pay a back utility bill. You must be approved for WorkFirst New Jersey WFNJ (TANF/GA) or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For more information about GA, TANF, SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) eligibility, and how to apply, go to  For more information about Emergency Assistance, go to Emergency Assistance and Time Limit Extensions.

  • NJ211. NJ211 provides information about federal, state, and local systems created to help people who are struggling. Specialists have access to a resource database of over 7,600 community programs and services that assist people who need help with things like rent, food, utilities, affordable housing, rental assistance, mental and physical health, substance use disorders, child care, senior needs, legal assistance, transportation, disability services, and so much more. You can contact NJ 211 by calling (simply dial 2-1-1), texting (send your zip code to 898-211), emailing ([email protected]), or by chatting online at NJ 211 also serves as the Statewide Homeless Hotline and New Jersey’s Utility Assistance Hotline.

What if I have an upcoming court date while my application for rental assistance is still pending?

In a July 14, 2023 order,, the New Jersey Supreme Court state that if you provide documentation of a pending application for rental assistance, the judge may adjourn the trial date for a period of 60 days or until the application is resolved. So you can refer to the order and ask for an adjournment if you have the documentation.

What if I am approved after the court date?

You still have some time to pay rent and get an eviction case for nonpayment of rent dismissed.  The tenant can pay the balance due:

  • within 3 business days after a warrant for removal is posted to the door; or
  • within 3 business days after a lockout.

The landlord cannot add a late fee to the amount due that is listed application for the warrant of removal.  After the tenant pays the balance, the landlord must provide receipts and notify the court within two business days so that the case can be dismissed. If that does not happen, then you may file a motion to dismiss the case.  Even though you paid the rent and were not locked out, the eviction case could still show up for a period of 7 years, because a judgment entered on the case.  For more information about when an eviction case is confidential, go to When is an eviction matter confidential?.

Does the landlord have to cooperate with rental assistance?

New Jersey law requires landlords to cooperate with rental assistance programs. A landlord’s failure to cooperate is a renter’s defense to a pending eviction action. If there is no pending eviction, the landlord’s noncooperation is also grounds to sue the landlord. A tenant should seek immediate legal assistance to avoid losing the rental assistance.

Under the Truth in Renting Act, landlords must cooperate with “any federal, state, or local rental assistance program or bona fide charitable organization which has committed to pay the rent due and owing.” This includes, but is not limited to, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, the State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP), Temporary Rental Assistance (TRA) from a welfare agency, the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CVRAP), the Homelessness Prevention Program, and various local agency resources. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) is broader. Under that law, landlords cannot refuse “any lawful source of rent.”

Neither the NJLAD nor the Truth in Renting Act applies to situations where the landlord lives in the premises and there is a one-tenant unit. However, there may be other legal arguments to make landlords comply with rental program requirements, and you should seek legal assistance. Case law in New Jersey supports a landlord’s duty to “mitigate damages.” That means a landlord has to take reasonable steps to avoid the loss of rental income, which can include cooperating with rental assistance. Also, in every contract, like a written or oral lease, there is an implied “covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” The people involved in any contract must deal with each other honestly, fairly, and in good faith, and not get in the way of the other side’s ability to do what they agreed to do. When a tenant agrees to pay rent in exchange for an apartment, the landlord cannot do anything to interfere with the tenant’s ability to pay the rent. The landlord would be breaking the implied agreement to act fairly and in good faith if the landlord refused to cooperate with a rental assistance program.

What if my landlord fails to comply?

Housing assistance counselors or mediators may also be available to make sure that your landlord cooperates in providing information and accepting the rental assistance. Get copies of any correspondence sent to you by the agency, and if possible, any correspondence sent to the landlord.

Seek immediate legal assistance to get the landlord to comply and avoid losing the rental assistance. If your landlord refuses to accept rental assistance, you can also file a complaint with the Division on Civil Rights, using the online portal NJBIAS (, or call 1-866-405-3050.

Where to look to apply for affordable housing

Many of these places may have long waiting lists. If you are being evicted, applying for these would not be an immediate solution. However, it is a good idea to get on a waiting list.

  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. You can search for public housing, privately owned subsidized housing, and public housing authorities that administer Section 8 vouchers, at HUD’s Rental Assistance page at

  • New Jersey Housing Resource Center (NJHRC). The NJHRC is a FREE, online searchable registry of affordable and accessible housing units throughout the State of New Jersey, including affordable rental housing, affordable for-sale housing and housing with accessibility features. See the New Jersey Housing Resource Center (NJHRC) website at

  • New Jersey Guide to Affordable Housing. This guide lists income-restricted affordable housing units for rent and for sale in New Jersey: