Guidelines for New Jersey
Non-Payment of Rent
note: This information and forms are applicable for residential
TYPICAL LANDLORD AND TENANT COMPLAINTS
The likely reasons a landlord may file a
complaint in the Landlord/Tenant Section of the New Jersey Superior Court,
Special Civil Part, include:
|Failure to pay rent. |
|Continued disorderly conduct. |
|Willful destruction or damage to property. |
|Habitual lateness in paying rent.|
|Violation of rules and regulations, after written notice to comply,
as outlined in a lease or other document. |
|Tenant's conviction for a drug offense.|
Before filing most complaints, a landlord must
give a tenant written notice to correct a lease violation. A landlord may
only proceed to file an eviction lawsuit if a tenant fails to correct the
violation within the statutory notice period.
The notice for Failure to Pay Rent, or
Substantial Lease Violation is three days.
" . . . a demand
that said tenant remove from said premises within three days
from the service of such notice. The notice shall specify the
cause of the termination of the tenancy, and shall be served either
personally upon the tenant or such person in possession by giving him
a copy thereof, or by leaving a copy thereof at his usual place of
abode with some member of his family above the age of 14 years."
" . . .It shall be shown to the
satisfaction of the court by due proof that the notice herein required
has been given."
Complaints for other than non-payment of
rent generally require notice terminating the tenancy. Termination of a
year to year lease may require a three month notice, all others are one
In New Jersey a landlord or a tenant
that is a corporation must be represented by an attorney in all matters
filed in the court. No landlord or tenant may be represented by anyone
other than a lawyer.
WHERE TO FILE A COMPLAINT
A complaint must be filed with the
Office of the Special Civil Part Clerk in the county where the rental
premises are located.
FILING A COMPLAINT
A Landlord/Tenant complaint form is
available from the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part in the
county where the rental premises are located. The complaint can be sent to
the court through the mail or delivered in person. When filing a
complaint, you must:
Give your full name, address, and telephone number. To ensure proper
service of the complaint, give the correct name(s) and address(es) of
the person(s) named in the complaint as defendant(s). It is important
that the defendant be properly identified as an individual, a sole
proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. Give all information
for the type of complaint you're filing, as indicated on the form. Sign
the completed form. Pay the correct filing and service fees when filing
the complaint with the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part.
The cost for filing a complaint in the
Landlord/Tenant Section is:
$20.00 for one defendant. $2.00 for each additional defendant.
In addition, you must pay a mileage fee for delivery of the complaint
by a Court Officer. The staff of the Special Civil Part can inform you
of the mileage fee.
PREPARATION FOR TRIAL
If you are the landlord, you must come
to court and prove the statements made in the complaint are true. Arrange
to have in court any witnesses you need to prove your case. A written
statement, even if made under oath, cannot be used in court. Only
actual, in-court testimony of the witnesses will be allowed. Prepare your
questions in advance.
Bring to court records of any
transactions that may help you prove your case. Such records may include:
Leases, estimates, bills, rent receipt records. Dishonored checks.
Letters, photographs. Other documents proving your claim.
If you are able to settle your case with the tenant before the trial
date, call the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part immediately.
A tenant does not have to file a written
answer, but must come to court and prove that the statements made by the
landlord in the complaint are not true. The tenant must also arrange to
have in court any witnesses needed to prove their side. A written
statement, even if made under oath, cannot be used in court. Only
actual testimony of the witnesses will be allowed.
The tenant should bring all applicable records which may include:
Rent receipts, canceled checks. Leases. Letters and notices to or
from the landlord. Photographs. Other documents proving your case.
If the rent was not paid because the
landlord did not make necessary repairs, the tenant must prove to the
court how serious the problems are and how they are affecting the intended
use of the rented premises. If a tenant has not paid the rent, and wants
to retain possession, they should bring the amount the landlord claims to
court. Only cash, a certified check, or a money order made out to the
Court Clerk is acceptable.
THE DAY IN COURT
Both the landlord and the tenant must
come to court at the time and date stated on the complaint unless
otherwise notified by the court. Bring all evidence and witnesses needed
to present your case. Both the landlord and tenant will be able to present
If the court decides in favor of the
tenant, the case will be dismissed. If the court decides in favor of the
landlord, a "judgement for possession" will be granted. That judgement
allows the landlord, within time limits, to have the tenant removed from
the premises by a Court Officer.
If the landlord's complaint is for
non-payment of rent and the tenant offers to pay all the rent due plus
court costs before or on the day of the court hearing, the landlord must
accept the rent and the case will be dismissed. If the landlord doesn't
accept the money, it may be deposited with the Clerk of the Special Civil
Part. The judgement then will be voided, and the tenant does not have to
move out of the premises.
JUDGMENT FOR POSSESSION
If a landlord is granted judgement for
possession, the landlord may apply to the Clerk of the Special Civil Part
for a warrant for possession, which allows the landlord to force the
tenant to move out of the premises. The fee for a warrant for possession
is $15.00 plus double the amount of the mileage fee. The warrant for
possession may not be issued until three (3) business days (not counting
the court day) after the judgement for possession is granted. The warrant
for possession will be issued to a Court Officer to serve on the tenant.
The Court Officer must give a
residential tenant three (3) business days to move all persons and
belongings from the premises. If the tenant does not move after three (3)
business days from which the warrant for possession was served, the
landlord may arrange with the Court Officer to have the tenant evicted or
locked out. The Court Officer will tell the landlord the fee charged for
Following the eviction, the landlord
must let the tenant remove personal belongings from the premises. A
landlord cannot keep a tenant's belongings, but can arrange for their
A landlord must apply for a warrant for
possession within 30 days from the date of the judgement for possession
unless the judgement is stopped through a court order or other written
agreement signed by the landlord and the tenant.
A tenant may ask the court for
permission to stay in the premises due to special difficulties that moving
out may cause. If permission is granted, the tenant may not stay in the
premises for more than six months. All rent due ordinarily must be paid
for permission to be granted by the court.
2A:42-10.16. Warrant for possession; execution
In any proceeding for the summary dispossession of a tenant, warrant
for possession issued by a court of appropriate jurisdiction:
a. Shall include a notice to the tenant of any right
to apply to the court for a stay of execution of the warrant, together
with a notice advising that the tenant may be eligible for temporary
housing assistance or other social services and that the tenant should
contact the appropriate county welfare agency, at the address and
telephone number given in the notice, to determine eligibility; and
b. Shall be executed not earlier
than the third day following the day of personal service upon the tenant
by the appropriate court officer. In calculating the number of days
hereby required, Saturday, Sunday and court holidays shall be excluded;
c. Shall be executed during the hours of 8 a.m. to 6
p.m., unless the court, for good cause shown, otherwise provides in its
judgment for possession.
Whenever a written notice, in accordance with the provisions of
subsection 2a., is given to the tenant by the court, this shall constitute
personal service in accordance with the provisions of subsection 2b.
The Superior Court, Law Division,
Special Civil Part shall retain jurisdiction for a period of 10 days
subsequent to the actual execution of the warrant for possession for the
purpose of hearing applications by the tenant for lawful relief.
L.1974,c.47,s.2; amended 1984,c.180,s.11; 1991,c.91,s.87.
2A:42-10.17. Warrant for removal; disorderly or destructive residential
The provisions of any other law to the contrary notwithstanding, in any
action alleging habitual violation of section 2b. of P.L.1974, c. 49 (C.
2A:18-61.1b.), or violation of section 2c. of P.L.1974, c. 49 (C.
2A:18-61.1c.), brought by a landlord against a tenant to recover
possession of any furnished unit leased or rented for seasonal use in any
premises of five or fewer units, the court having jurisdiction shall issue
a warrant for removal within 2 days from judgment for possession. Such a
warrant for removal may be stayed only upon consent by the landlord. For
the purposes of this act "seasonal use" means use for a term of not more
than 125 consecutive days for residential purposes by a person having a
permanent place of residence elsewhere. "Seasonal use" does not mean use
as living quarters for seasonal, temporary or migrant farm workers in
connection with any work or place where work is being performed. The
landlord shall have the burden of proving that the use of the unit is
seasonal. L.1979, c. 392, s. 2, eff. Feb. 6, 1980.