The eviction procedure does not end when court is over. If you lose your case, the judge will enter a judgment for possession (order of eviction). The judgment for possession does not allow the landlord to garnish your wages or attach any bank accounts you may have. It allows the landlord to apply to the court for a warrant for removal to have you evicted or, in other words, removed from your home. The landlord must follow certain steps to have you removed from your apartment or house. During this time, there are steps you can take to get the case dismissed or to get more time to move.
The Warrant for Removal Process
You will not be locked out on the day of the hearing. The warrant for removal directs a Special Civil Part court officer to evict you. The landlord must send proof of the judgment to the court clerk. The court clerk will then issue a warrant for removal to the court officer. The law does not allow the warrant for removal to be issued by the court clerk until at least three business days after the court enters judgment for possession.
If you signed a consent judgment and breach the terms of the agreement, then the landlord can file a certification of breach with the court, and the warrant can be issued three business days later.
When the court officer gets the warrant for removal from the court clerk, the court officer then serves a copy of the warrant on the tenant by taping it onto the tenant’s door. The warrant may look like
If you do not voluntarily leave the apartment or do not contest the warrant, the landlord can schedule a lockout with a court officer after three business days. The court officer will:
Note: Unless the landlord and tenant agree in writing to a longer time frame, the landlord must ask the court clerk to issue a warrant for removal within 30 days of getting the judgment. If the landlord waits longer than 30 days, the landlord then will have to notify the tenant and go back to court to get permission to have the warrant issued. See NJ Court Rule 6:7-1(d).
The same is true if the landlord does not ask the court officer to lock the tenant out within 30 days of the service of the warrant on the tenant by the court officer. The landlord will have to notify the tenant and go back to court to get permission to have the court officer complete the eviction. See NJ Court Rule 6:7-1(d). (from NJ Courts)
Tenants Evicted for Nonpayment of Rent Who Now Have the Money
If the eviction complaint was for nonpayment of rent, the tenant can pay the total amount due:
The landlord cannot add a late fee to the amount due that is listed in the 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 to dismiss the case. If that does not happen, the tenant then may file a motion to dismiss the case.
Certain provisions in the Truth in Renting Act may help tenants at the warrant of removal stage. The Act applies to landlords who offer leases for at least a month or more. It does not apply to:
Under the Act, a landlord must accept rent by “cash, certified check, or money order, or through any federal, state, or local rental assistance program or bona fide charitable organization on behalf of the tenant” within a three business day period of eviction. The landlord has to cooperate with any such agency that has promised to pay the rent. If the landlord doesn’t cooperate, and the tenant has a warrant for removal, or is within three business days after being locked out, the tenant can file an order to show cause with the court. The order to show cause will force a resolution of the case in court.
Even if the Truth in Renting Act does not apply, the landlord may have to accept payment from an agency under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD). That law applies to all rental properties except for two-family dwellings where the owner lives in one unit, and owner-occupied single family homes where the owner is renting out rooms. Under the LAD, a landlord cannot discriminate against a lawful source of rent, like money from an agency. Therefore, the tenant could still argue that the landlord has to cooperate with any agency promising to pay rent.
Tenant receives a warrant for removal on June 10 and owes $2,000. Tenant tries to pay $2,000 to the landlord on June 11. Landlord refuses to accept the rent. Tenant can go to the court to file an order to show cause.
Tenant was served with a warrant for removal. The lockout date was on June 10. Tenant tried to give the landlord the rent money for entire balance owed on June 11. Landlord refuses to accept. Tenant can go to the court to file an order to show cause.
Orders for orderly removal—stopping the lockout to get more time to move
When you get the warrant for removal, the warrant will tell you that you will be lockedout in three days. You do not include the date that the warrant was taped to your door, weekends or holidays.
A warrant for removal is taped onto your door on Friday, September 1. The upcoming Monday, September 4, is Labor Day. The earliest you could be locked out would be Friday, September 8, three full business days later (Tuesday, September 5; Wednesday, September 6; and Thursday September 8).
If you need more time to move, you can ask the court for a stay for orderly removal. The court can give you up to seven days to move out voluntarily, without having a court hearing. The court can allow you this time without requiring you to pay rent.
Tenants should be aware that if they seek a stay for orderly removal, the court might require tenants to forego other rights. Some courts have included a condition that the tenant will relinquish any rights under the Abandoned Tenant Property Act or forgo any further applications for post judgment relief.
To apply for a stay for orderly removal:
If the court grants an order for orderly removal, the landlord can seek to reverse it, but the landlord must give you notice. Cite: N.J.Ct. Rule 6:6-6.
Hardship stays—up to six months
The judge is allowed under law to give a tenant up to six months to stay in the rented property if certain conditions are met. The judge could initially give less than six months to stay, and then, you could later apply for more time. This stay of the warrant for removal is called a hardship stay of eviction.
To get a hardship stay, you must:
If your eviction was for nonpayment of rent, and you have the rent money, please read the prior section “Tenants Evicted for Nonpayment of Rent Who Now Have the Money” about how to get your case dismissed.
Stays for terminally ill tenants
The law allows a judge to grant one-year stays of eviction if the tenant is terminally ill. To be eligible for this type of stay, you must:
This lawapplies to all buildings, including owner-occupied buildings. Cite: N.J.S.A. 2A:18-59.1.
How to overturn the warrant—vacating the judgment to prevent homelessness
In certain cases, you may avoid being evicted, even after the judge has ordered your eviction and the court officer has served you with the warrant for removal. You also may be able to get back into your apartment after you have been locked out.
To vacate (set-aside or lift) a judgment or warrant for removal, a tenant would file anorder to show cause. The court may have a form for you to use. You should explain why the judgment should not have entered or why the eviction should not have proceeded.
Below are just a few examples to help guide you. When drafting reasons why the eviction should not have entered, you may wish to refer to Defenses to Eviction.
Tammy Tenant was withholding rent money due to serious repair problems in the apartment. Tammy received a warrant for removal, but never recalled receiving a summons and complaint and did not appear on the trial date. She went to court with a copy of the warrant, a copy of the letter to the landlord explaining all of the repair problems, and her rent money to file an order to show cause. In her papers, she explained that she has her rent money and was withholding it because the landlord failed to make repairs. She stated that had she received the court papers, she would have appeared that day and had her rent money to deposit into court for a Marini hearing. She attached a copy of the prior letter to the landlord.
Tammy Tenant was late for court, and the court entered default. The basis for eviction was the landlord claimed that he wanted to personally occupy her unit. Tammy has proof that the landlord does not really want to occupy the unit. She is also in the middle of the lease. Soon after the court date, Tammy receives a warrant for removal. She goes to the court to file an order to show cause. When she files for the order to show cause, she presents the warrant of removal, the lease, and her defenses: landlord does not want to live in her apartment and she is in the middle of a lease contract whereby the landlord already committed to rent to her for that term. She also includes a statement which explains how she will be harmed if she is evicted from her apartment.
Tammy Tenant signed a consent to enter judgment on April 10. The terms of the agreement were that she had to make the following payments: $300 on April 17, $300 on April 24, $300 on May 8. She also had to pay May’s rent of $1,000 on time, and rent is due on the first of the month. On April 17, the management office closed early, so no one was there when she went to make her payment. The landlord alleged that she breached the agreement, and she got a warrant for removal on April 25. Tammy should file an order to show cause and explain that she was complying with the agreement. She should attach any proof that she had the money for the April 17 and April 24 payments, (for example, copies of money orders). On the hearing date, she should bring copies of the money order along with any other payments that are due.
If the court grants the order to show cause, then you must read the order very carefully before you leave the court. Sometimes, the court may require you to pay the rent that is due into the court. The order will include a new date for you to return to court. This new date is called the return date. You will need to explain why the case should be dismissed on the return date.
On the return date, you and the landlord will have a trial regarding the eviction. At the trial, you will have the opportunity to present your defenses. The landlord will have an opportunity to present reasons why you should be evicted. The judge on the return date could still rule in favor of the landlord. If this happens, you should ask the judge to consider a possibly a hardship stay or an order for orderly for removal.
If you have questions about what happens to any property left behind after an eviction, see The Abandoned Tenant Property Statute.
This information last reviewed: Jul 8, 2020