Landlord/Tenant

The following information outlines court process for Landlord-Tenant cases.

On This Page

Special Civil Part officers are the only ones able to enforce an eviction. Any other attempt at eviction is illegal.

Forms and Process

Quick Access to All Landlord-Tenant Forms

Landlord Forms:

Tenant Forms:

Process for Filing

Landlord tenant cases are filed in the special civil part of Superior Court.

Any landlord that is a business entity must be represented by a New Jersey attorney in landlord tenant cases. A business entity is a corporation, a limited liability company, or a partnership.

Sole proprieters and general partnerships are allowed to file papers and represent themselves in court. Still, it is a good idea to get a lawyer if you can.

While you have the right to represent yourself in court, you should not expect any special treatment, help, or attention from the court. You must still comply with the Rules of the Court, even if you are not familiar with them. The following is a list of some things the court staff can and cannot do for you. Please read it carefully before asking the court staff for help. 

  • We can explain and answer questions about how the court works.
  • We can tell you what the requirements are to have your case considered by the court.
  • We can give you some information from your case file.
  • We can provide you with samples of court forms that are available.
  • We can provide you with guidance on how to fill out forms.
  • We can usually answer questions about court deadlines.
  • We cannot give you legal advice. Only your lawyer can give you legal advice.
  • We cannot tell you whether or not you should bring your case to court.
  • We cannot give you an opinion about what will happen if you bring your case to court.
  • We cannot recommend a lawyer, but we can provide you with the telephone number of a local lawyer referral service.
  • We cannot talk to the judge for you about what will happen in your case.
  • We cannot let you talk to the judge outside of court.
  • We cannot change an order issued by a judge.

How to File a Complaint in Landlord Tenant Court

  1. Complete Forms
    1. Verified Complaints
      The landlord must provide the correct name(s) and address(es) for each tenant named as a defendant. Also, the complaint must identify the tenant(s) as individuals, proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.
    2. Tenancy Summons and Return of Service
    3. Landlord Case Information Statement
      • Landlord(s) must complete a Case Information Statement and file it with the court with the complaint. The information contained in the Case Information Statement is not admissible as evidence.
      • Do not include personal identifiers such as social security numbers on the copy of the documents that you file with the court. Complete the forms, make a copy, and then redact the personal identifiers on the copies you will submit to the court.
  2. Attach the filing fee or request a fee waiver:
    One defendant $50
    Each additional defendant $5
  3. Service fee: $7 for delivery of the court papers by a special civil part officer. Check the forms to make sure they are complete. Sign the forms.
  4. For cases involving something other than non-payment of rent, include all notices that were sent to the tenant which will be used at the trial.
  5. Make copies of all of the documents that will be submitted to the court and put one copy in a safe place. The landlord should keep a copy for their records and two copies for each tenant named as a defendant in the complaint.
  6. Check that the personal identifiers are redacted on the copies prepared for court.
  7. Upload the documents into the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS) system. Use a credit card to pay the fee or mail the verified complaint, the summons, the LCIS, any notices, and the fee to the Superior Court where the rental property is located. You can also deliver the papers in person or by mail. Include the
    • Verified complaint
    • The summons
    • The LCIS
    • Any notices
    • Check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey. You can also pay cash if you are delivering the papers to the courthouse in person.

    Note that attorneys must use the eCourts system to file landlord tenant cases.

Tenant Response

The tenant is the defendant in a landlord tenant case. The defendant must go to court to defend against the landlord’s claims. Written responses are not acceptable.

Tenants must complete the Tenant Case Information Statement (TCIS) and file it with the court. The TCIS is due at least five days before the case management conference.

Does the tenant need a lawyer in landlord tenant court?

The tenant must be represented by a lawyer if it is a business. Any corporation, company, or limited liability partnership must have an attorney in landlord tenant court cases.

Even if you are not a business, it is a good idea to get a lawyer if you can. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can contact the legal services program in your county to see if you qualify for free legal services.

Legal Services of New Jersey maintains a directory of regional legal services offices.

The New Jersey State Bar Association also maintains a list of county lawyer referral services that might be helpful.

While you have the right to represent yourself in court, you should not expect any special treatment, help, or attention from the court. You must still comply with the Rules of the Court, even if you are not familiar with them. The following is a list of some things the court staff can and cannot do for you. Please read it carefully before asking the court staff for help. 

  • We can explain and answer questions about how the court works.
  • We can tell you what the requirements are to have your case considered by the court.
  • We can give you some information from your case file.
  • We can provide you with samples of court forms that are available.
  • We can provide you with guidance on how to fill out forms.
  • We can usually answer questions about court deadlines.
  • We cannot give you legal advice. Only your lawyer can give you legal advice.
  • We cannot tell you whether or not you should bring your case to court.
  • We cannot give you an opinion about what will happen if you bring your case to court.
  • We cannot recommend a lawyer, but we can provide you with the telephone number of a local lawyer referral service.
  • We cannot talk to the judge for you about what will happen in your case.
  • We cannot let you talk to the judge outside of court.
  • We cannot change an order issued by a judge.

Case Management Conference

The court will schedule a mandatory case management conference in your case. You are required to attend the conference.

Most conferences will be conducted online, so you do not have to come to the courthouse.

At the conference, court staff will ask you for information. They can advise you on housing, legal and utilities assistance. You will also have the chance to try to settle your case without having to go to trial. You will get more details in the scheduling notice.

If no settlement is reached, the case will move to trial.

Settlement

It is important to come to the scheduled court date. Both parties might be able to work out a settlement as long as they are both present.

Settlement is often the best solution. It gives both parties the chance to compromise. In a settlement meeting with trained court staff, each party can get something that they want out of the case. Even if a tenant is facing eviction, the tenant and landlord might be able to work out a plan that will give the tenant more time to move out.

If the landlord and tenant agree on a settlement, the court staff will help them submit the correct form to the judge.

If the judge approves the settlement, the case is over. The landlord and tenant can move forward according to the settlement terms.

You have nothing to lose by trying to settle with the other party.

Preparing for Trial

Watch this video on landlord tenant cases before you attend court.

What to present

Documents

Be prepared to present or submit all records that will help you prove your case, such as:

  • rent receipts, estimates, repair bills
  • dishonored checks from the tenant (bounced checks)
  • letters and notices to, or from, the tenant(s)
  • photographs**
  • any other documents that you believe will help you defend the case being made against you

**Photographs, emails and text messages must be submitted to the court. You should print these out if you are appearing in person or contact the court in advance to arrange to submit them if you are attending virtually. Contact the Civil Division in your county to arrange to submit evidence in advance of the trial.

Witnesses.

Your witnesses can attend court to help you prove your case; the court will not accept a written statement signed by a witness.

If you are attending to court without a lawyer, you will have to question your witnesses. Prepare any questions you will ask your witnesses in advance.

What to expect at the trial:

  • If the landlord does not attend, the case will be dismissed. This means the case will not proceed.
  • If the tenant does not attend, the case will be marked “Default.” This means the landlord can apply for a judgment against the tenant.
  • If you both come to court, you will be asked to work with trained, neutral court staff to try to settle your case.

    OR

    1. If the landlord and the tenant come to an agreement, the court staff will help complete the right form to finalize the settlement. The judge must review and approve the forms before the court will accept your agreement.
    2. If you do not come to an agreement, a judge will hear the case. The judge will either grant or deny a judgment for possession. A judgment for possession is the first step toward eviction

Read the instructions that the judge will give in court

After the Trial

Unpaid rent:

A tenant cannot be evicted if the full amount of rent is paid. The landlord also can charge for other costs if the judge approves. Even after a judgment of possession is issued by the court, the tenant has three business days to pay the rent and the approved costs to avoid eviction. The landlord cannot refuse the timely offer of full payment by the tenant, by a charitable organization, or by a rental assistance program.

The judgment of possession does not entitle the landlord to the outstanding rent. To seek back rent, the landlord must file a claim in the special civil part or small claims section to collect the outstanding rent.

Judgments for Possession and Warrants of Removal

If a judgment for possession is entered, the landlord can take steps to have the tenant evicted.

If the tenant does not leave the property, a special civil part court officer, not the landlord, will serve the tenant(s) with a warrant of removal.

Residential tenants have three business days to leave the property after they are served with a warrant of removal. If they do not leave, the landlord can ask the court officer to evict them. The special civil part officer will carry out the warrant of removal unless they pay everything in full. The residential tenant can also pay the landlord everything in full up to three business days after an eviction and have their case dismissed.

Unlike residential tenants, business tenants must leave immediately when served with a warrant of removal.

Landlords need to submit the following to move towards eviction:

Residential

Commercial

After Judgment for Possession

There are still things that a tenant can do after the court date that could delay or prevent an eviction. The tenants must notify their landlord if they decide to pursue any of these actions with the court:

  • Tenants can request an Order for Orderly Removal, which grants them more time to move out. This could give them up to seven calendar days to move.
  • They can request a hardship stay. This could stop the eviction for up to six months. Tenants cannot apply for a hardship stay unless they pay all the money they owe to the landlord, plus any costs. If they pay all the money they owe and they are granted a hardship stay, they must still comply with the original lease and pay all of the rent during the stay.
  • Tenants can apply to the court to vacate (cancel) the judgment for possession. This request is not granted often and requires unique legal circumstances.
  • Tenants can ask the court to dismiss the case if they give the landlord all the money that is due within three business days of the judgment of possession or eviction. The court must dismiss the complaint.
  • Tenants can file an Order to Show Cause if the landlord refuses to accept payment from a rental assistance program or charity that has agreed to pay the overdue amount.

Tenants should contact the Special Civil Part Office as soon as possible to apply for any of the above.

Laws and Legal Research

Key facts:

  • Residential tenants in New Jersey have certain rights. They cannot be evicted by anyone other than a special civil part officer.
  • The landlord must first file a landlord tenant lawsuit in the special civil part of the Superior Court and get a judgment for possession from the court before an officer can be directed to evict any residential tenant.
  • If the landlord does not have a judgment for possession, and attempts to have the tenant evicted, this is an illegal lockout. If the eviction is not carried out by a special civil part officer, this is also an illegal lockout.
  • Tenants have the right to attend court on the scheduled trial date to defend themselves against a possible eviction. Those cases are heard in the county courthouse where the rental property is located.
  • Covid-19 Update: Landlord Tenant trials and evictions have resumed as of September 1, 2021. Do not ignore an eviction notice:
    • Case management conferences are required court events that are being held by phone or video conference.
    • Settlement conferences also are being held by phone or video conference.
       

    Landlord Tenant Laws:

    There are two New Jersey statutes that apply to eviction cases. The laws differ on when and why a renter can be evicted.

    See N.J.S.A. 2A:18-53 for commercial tenants (not homes) and for residential properties with no more than two rental units (such as a two-family home, or a three-family home if the landlord also lives in one of the units).

    N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 et. seq. applies to all other residential tenants, except for hotels, motels, and seasonal renters.

    Laws Protecting Tenants

    Some reasons a landlord might file a complaint in landlord tenant court:

    • The tenant failed to pay rent.
    • The tenant is often late in paying rent.
    • The tenant has repeatedly acted in a disorderly manner.
    • The tenant has caused destruction or damage to the property willfully or through gross negligence.
    • The tenant has violated the terms of the lease or other document.
    • The landlord is required to board up or demolish the property for health and safety reasons.

    In most cases, a landlord must give a tenant a written notice to cease, or stop, their disorderly conduct or other violation. The landlord can only move forward with an eviction if the tenant continues the conduct after receiving the notice to stop. See N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 for more information.

    Also, complaints for reasons other than non-payment of rent generally require notice ending the tenancy. These notices must be attached to the complaint at the time of filing. Under federal law, public housing residences require the landlord to send a copy of the complaint and any eviction notice to the Public Housing Authority (“PHA”) on the same day or before the complaint is filed in court.

    Common Defenses in Eviction Cases

    There are many ways that tenants can defend themselves in eviction cases. Both tenants and landlords should research these issues in order to prepare for court. Legal Services of New Jersey has a helpful website to get you started.

    Habitability

    A rental property must be “habitable,” meaning that people can live in it safely and comfortably. In New Jersey this is also called the Marini Doctrine. Common problems that affect habitability:

    1. Lack of heat
    2. Mold, bedbugs, or rodents
    3. No running water, no hot water, or a toilet that doesn’t work
    4. Lead paint, broken windows, unfinished floors
    5. Broken appliances such as a stove or a refrigerator
    6. Unsafe common areas such as a lobby, stairs, or elevator
    7. Anything else that makes it hard for a tenant to live there normally
       

    A tenant might withhold rent because of a habitability issue. But habitability cannot be used to avoid eviction for a pattern of late rent payments, noise or pet violations, or any other reason the landlord might give for an eviction.

    To make a habitability defense, a tenant must:

    1. Be able to pay the full amount of rent due on the scheduled court date. They might be asked to give the rent money to the court to hold until the case is over.
    2. Be able to show the court, with photos or other evidence, that some part of the living space is uninhabitable.
    3. Be able to show the court that they told the landlord about the problem and gave the landlord a chance to fix it.
    4. Be able to show the court that they are not the cause of the issue. If the tenant broke the window, for example, that cannot be the reason for not paying rent.
       

    Unregistered Rental Property

    The property might not be registered as a rental property. If the landlord lives on the property and there are three units or fewer, the property must be registered with the Community Development Authority.

    If the landlord does not live on the property OR the property includes more than three units, the property must be registered with the Bureau of Housing Inspection.

    The case might be dismissed if the landlord cannot prove that the property is registered. The judge could also decide to delay the case to give the landlord time to register the property.

    Illegal Tenancy

    A tenant could argue that the tenancy is illegal. Reasons could include:

    1. The property is condemned.
    2. There are zoning violations. For example, the property has been divided into more units than it was approved to have.
    3. The property violates other laws. For example, it might be in a basement with only one escape route.
       

    Abatement

    The judge could decide to give the tenant an “abatement”, meaning the tenant does not owe the full amount of the rent because of a problem with the property. For example, the tenant is paying for a 2-bedroom apartment but one of the bedrooms has no windows and is not a real room.

    Section 8 Subsidized Housing

    A landlord cannot evict a tenant without first telling any public agencies that subsidize the tenant’s rent. The landlord must attach proof of this notice when the eviction complaint is filed with the court. The case could be dismissed if the landlord did not notify the agency about the case.

    Certain Business Landlords That Require Attorneys

    Landlords that are corporations, limited liability companies (LLC), or limited partnerships (LLP), are not permitted to file landlord/tenant lawsuits without an attorney. When these business landlords appear in court, they must also have an attorney representing them.

    Notices Required if Landlord is Suing for Something Other Than Non-Payment of Rent

    If the landlord has sued a tenant for a reason other than non-payment of rent, the landlord is required to send the tenant certain notices. The landlord must attach copies of the notices to the complaint before filing with the court. Each notice can have different legal requirements depending on the reason for seeking eviction. Tenants must receive these notices when they are served with the summons and complaint.

    Payment of All Rent Due by 4:30 p.m. on Trial Date (for Non-Payment of Rent Case Only)

    The case may be dismissed if the tenant pays to the court by 4:30 p.m. on the scheduled trial date the entire amount of rent due and owing. This includes the court costs (landlord’s filing fees) and any other costs lawfully permitted by the lease agreement. This is only if a landlord has sued on the basis of non-payment of rent only,

    Pay All Rent up to Three Days After an Eviction (Landlord Must accept)/h4>

    For residential non-payment of rent cases only, a landlord must accept payment as long as it includes:

    1. The total amount of rent due and owing, plus
    2. Permissible costs and charges under a valid lease agreement.
       

    Total amount must be paid any time up to three business days after an eviction. Payment must be by cashier’s check, money order or cash. No personal checks. A landlord must also accept payment on behalf of a tenant by a charitable organization.

    After receipt of payment, the landlord has three days to ask the court to dismiss the tenant’s case with prejudice.

    Illegal Evictions

    How to File for the Return to Your Rental Premises

    A landlord cannot evict tenants or remove their belongings from a rental home without first getting a judgment for possession and then a warrant of removal from the court. Only a special civil part officer can perform the eviction on behalf of a landlord.

    It is illegal for the landlord to force a tenant out by changing the locks, padlocking the doors or by shutting off gas, water or electricity.

    A landlord also cannot take possession of a tenant’s personal belongings or furniture to try to force them to pay rent. Tenants who have been locked out of their home illegally can file a complaint in the special civil part of Superior Court. In the complaint, the tenant can request to be allowed back into the home. They also can request monetary damages.

    Security Deposits

    Maximum security deposit is 1 ½ months’ rent.

    In New Jersey, a landlord can only charge up to 1½ months’ rent as a security deposit. The landlord requires the security deposit in order to pay for any damage done to the unit or to cover unpaid rent after the tenant leaves. The landlord must deposit the security deposit into an interest-bearing account within 30 days of receiving the money from the tenant.

    Security deposit must be kept in an interest-bearing bank account.

    The landlord must notify the tenant in writing, within 30 days of receiving the deposit, the following information:

    1. The name and address of the bank where the money has been deposited.
    2. The amount of the deposit.
    3. The type of account.
    4. The current interest rate of that account
       

    The landlord must send the tenant an updated statement providing the same information on an annual basis, or within 30 days if:

    • The deposit is moved to another account or bank.
    • The bank merges with another bank.
    • The rental property is sold.
       

    The interest must be paid or credited to the tenant each year.

    The landlord must either pay you the amount of the annual interest in cash or must credit the amount of the annual interest toward the payment of rent.

    The security deposit cannot be touched until the tenant moves out.

    The landlord cannot deduct any money from a tenant’s security deposit until after the tenant moves out of the home. If the landlord wants to use the security deposit to pay for damage or for unpaid rent, they must notify the tenant in writing within 30 days after eviction or after the tenant moves out of the home. The tenant must provide the landlord with their new address so that the landlord can contact them about their security deposit.

    If the tenant owes more money than the amount of the security deposit, or if the damage caused by the tenant was beyond normal wear and tear, the landlord can sue the tenant in court for the additional amount.

    If the tenant believes the landlord kept all or part of the security deposit without good cause, the tenant can sue the landlord for security deposits up to $5,000 in small claims court. Lawsuits for security deposits greater than $5,000 must be filed as special civil cases.

    Foreclosures

    A residential tenant will not be forced to move because the property is in foreclosure if the tenant has a valid lease and is in good standing. The purchase at the sheriff’s sale will take over the building subject to the tenants’ rights.

    If the property they are renting goes into foreclosure, tenants should receive the Notice to Residential Tenants of Rights During Foreclosure.

Frequently Asked Questions

    • Q. What Types of Claims Are Filed?

      Common reasons why a landlord might file a complaint in the Landlord/Tenant Section of the Special Civil Part Court are:

      • 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 a landlord/tenant complaint for a reason other than non-payment of rent, the landlord must give the tenant written notice to stop particular conduct. Only when a tenant continues that conduct after receiving the notice to stop, can a landlord try to have the tenant evicted. Federal law requires a landlord who owns public housing residences to send a copy of the complaint and any eviction notice to the Public Housing Authority (“PHA”) on or before the complaint is filed with the Court.

      According to the Federal CARES Act of 2020, landlords who have Section 8 tenants or who have a federally backed mortgage and are allowed to postpone mortgage payments during the Covid-19 health crisis are not allowed to file in landlord/tenant court until July 26, 2020 and they must provide 30 days’ notice to their tenants once they are allowed to file in court. Landlords should consider consulting an attorney for more information on the impact of federal and state laws passed during the Covid-19 health crisis.

      Landlords or tenants that are corporations, limited liability corporations or limited partnerships must be represented by a New Jersey attorney in all matters filed in the Landlord/Tenant Section. No landlord or tenant that is one of these kinds of business entities can send a representative other than a New Jersey licensed lawyer or other court permitted lawyer to court. Partners in a general partnership can represent themselves in the Landlord/Tenant section of the Special Civil Part Court.

    • Q. Where Do I File a Landlord/Tenant Complaint?

      A complaint must be filed with the Office of the Special Civil Part Clerk in the county where the rental premises are located.

    • Q. How Do I File a Landlord/Tenant Complaint?

      Landlords must file a Verified Complaint, Summons and Return of Service and Landlord Case Information Statement with the court. They should also include any notices previously given to tenants that they intended to rely upon at trial. The required forms, as well as a list Special Civil Part offices, addresses, and phone numbers, can be found on the court’s website at njcourts.gov.

      If you are landlord, send the required forms and any notices to tenants that you intend to rely upon at trial, along with the appropriate fees, to the court through the mail or by using the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS) system. For more information on JEDS, go to njcourts.gov.
      When filing you must include the following:

      • Enter your full name, address and telephone number.
      • To ensure proper service of the complaint, provide the correct name(s) and address(es) of the person(s) named in the complaint as defendant(s)/tenants. It is important that the defendant/tenant be properly identified as an individual, a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation.
      • Landlord/Tenant complaints against residential tenants, for non-payment of rent must be signed and verified by someone with personal knowledge of the facts supporting this complaint. There are other specific facts that must also be included and verified, as stated in the complaint form.
      • If you are filing the complaint for reasons other than non-payment of rent, you must attach all applicable notices that you previously sent to the tenant and which you will rely upon at trial.
      • Sign and date the completed forms. Have an original and two copies of your completed forms for each defendant, or tenant, named in the summons and complaint forms.
      • Pay the correct filing and service fees when filing the complaint with the Office of the Special Civil Part.
      • If you file through the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS) system, the filing fees can be paid by credit card or collateral account. There is a 3% credit card processing fee for this service. 
    • Q. What Are the Filing Fees?

      The cost for filing a complaint in the Landlord/Tenant Section is:

      For one defendant/tenant.  $50
      For each additional defendant/tenant.  $125
      Service fee for the lawsuit to be served on the tenants/defendant(s) by the Special Civil Part Officer.  $7

      If you file by mail, include a check for the filing fees (remember to include the mileage fee). Your check should be made payable the Treasurer, State of New Jersey. If you file through the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS) system, the filing fees can be paid by credit card or collateral account. There is a 3% credit card processing fee for this service. Be sure to follow the instructions provided on the payment screen.

    • Q. What Happens If the Landlord Obtains a Judgment for Possession?

      If a landlord obtains a judgment for possession, the landlord can apply to the Special Civil Part Office for a warrant of removal, which permits the landlord to force the tenant to move out of the rental property (eviction). The fee for a warrant of removal is $35 plus the applicable Special Civil Part Officer’s mileage fee. A second mileage fee will also be required to be paid by the landlord to the Special Civil Part Officer directly, if it is necessary for the officer to revisit the residential rental property and execute the same warrant of removal (eviction) that the officer previously served upon the residential tenant. The landlord can contact the Special Civil Part Office staff about the applicable mileage fees. The warrant of removal cannot be issued to a Special Civil Part Officer until the expiration of three (3) business days (not counting the court day) after the judgment for possession is granted. Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order 106, evictions of residential tenants are suspended till 60 days after the public health emergency is declared over.

      The Special Civil Part Officer must give a residential tenant at least three (3) business days to move all persons and belongings from the property. Again, this date does not include holidays, weekends or the date that the warrant of removal was originally served by the Special Civil Part Officer upon the residential tenant. The Special Civil Part Officer is not required to provide a commercial tenant with any three-business day notice, as the officer can serve the warrant for removal and evict the commercial tenant at the same time.

      If the residential tenant does not move out after three (3) business days from the date that they were served with the warrant of removal, the landlord must arrange with the Special Civil Part Officer directly to have the residential tenant evicted or locked out. The Special Civil Part Officer will tell the landlord about any other possible fees charged for this eviction, which must be agreed to by the landlord and which cannot be greater than $75; the landlord pays this fee and the second mileage fee to the Special Civil Part Officer directly

      Following the eviction, the landlord must allow the tenant to remove personal belongings from the property. If a tenant vacates the rental property but fails to remove their personal belongings, the landlord must still comply with the provisions of the New Jersey Tenant’s Abandoned Property statute. The landlord should consult with an attorney for those requirements. The landlord must apply for the warrant of removal (eviction) within 30 days from the date that the judgment for possession is entered unless the judgment is stopped or stayed (delayed) through a court order or other written agreement signed by the landlord and the tenant. The landlord must have the Special Civil Part Officer execute the warrant of removal (eviction) within 30 days of the warrant’s issuance unless the judgment is temporarily stopped or stayed through a court order or other written agreement signed by the landlord and tenant.

    • Q. What Can the Tenant do after Judgment for Possession is Entered?

      If the landlord’s complaint is for non-payment of rent, the residential tenant can pay all the rent due and owing, plus proper costs, up till three business days after they are evicted, and the landlord must send a letter or notice to the court dismissing the case with prejudice. The landlord cannot refuse to accept this timely payment from the tenant. The payment must be in certified funds, money order or cash. The landlord does not have to accept the tenant’s payment by personal check. A tenant can make a timely motion to dismiss with prejudice if the landlord failed to provide the required letter or notice to the Court upon their timely receipt of all rent due and owing, plus proper costs, or if the landlord refused to accept this timely offer of full payment.

      The landlord can be subject to a statutory penalty of $500 if they fail to accept the full rent due and owing before three business days from the date of the eviction, plus any proper court costs, fail to cooperate with a charitable organization or rental assistance program that had committed to pay the tenant’s rent and/or fails to notify the court to dismiss the case with prejudice.

      A tenant can ask the court for permission to stay in the property due to special difficulties or hardship that moving out might cause. If permission is granted, the tenant cannot stay in the property for more than six months, and all rent due, and future rent due during this “hardship stay,” must be paid..

      The tenant can also ask for a more temporary stay by asking the court for an Order for Orderly Removal which is typically no longer than 7 calendar days. Finally, a tenant can file a motion to vacate the underlying judgment for possession but that does not typically stop or stay the eviction process unless otherwise ordered by the court. Any of these requests for relief made by the tenant must be done with notice to the landlord and must be made within 10 days from the date of the eviction.

    • Q. What Happens to the Residential Security Deposit?

      The landlord must place security deposits in an interest-bearing account in a bank or saving and loan association in New Jersey at the time the lease is signed. The landlord must give the tenant written notice of where the money has been deposited within 30 days.

      If the landlord does not return the security deposit within 30 days from the date the tenant moves out or vacates the property, the tenant can sue to recover double the amount due, plus court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees, if any. If the amount is $5000 or less, the tenant can sue in the Small Claims Section of the Special Civil Part Court. If the amount is more than $5,000, the tenant can sue in the Special Civil Part. If the amount is more than $15,000, the tenant must sue in the civil part section of the Law Division.

      The landlord must notify the tenant, within those 30 days from the date that the tenant vacates the rental property, if the landlord intends to keep some or all of the security deposit to pay unpaid rent and/or to pay for the cost of the repairs, if any. If the amount of any damage caused by a tenant plus any unpaid rent is more than the security deposit, the landlord can sue for the additional money.

      If a residential building is sold, the seller must turn over each security deposit plus any interest to the buyer and notify each tenant by registered or certified mail.

    • Q. The Premises I Am Currently Renting Are Subject to a Pending Foreclosure Action, Will I Be Forced to Move Because of This Foreclosure?

      A tenant will NOT be forced to move because of foreclosure. A residential tenancy is not generally affected by a foreclosure. The fact that the building, in which a tenant is renting goes into foreclosure, does NOT in most instances, affect a bona fide residential tenant in good standing. The purchaser at the sheriff’s sale will take over the building subject to the tenant’s rights.

    • Q. How Do I Prepare for Trial in Land Lord/Tenant case?

      Landlord

      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 all records of any transactions that may help you prove your case. Such records can include:

      • Leases, estimates, bills, rent receipts or ledgers.
      • Dishonored checks.
      • Letters, photographs.
      • Other documents proving your claim

      If you are the landlord and want to withdraw the complaint, immediately call the Special Civil Part Office so that they can mark the case as withdrawn and cancel any interpreter or special accommodation, if any, that may have been arranged. If you and the tenant settle the case prior to the scheduled trial date, and it is regarding a residential property, the judge might need to review and approve the settlement agreement in the event it needs to be enforced later by any of the parties.

      Tenant

      If you are the tenant, you don't have to file a written answer, but you must come to court and prove that the statements made by the landlord in the complaint are not 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 testimony of the witnesses, including your own testimony, will be allowed.
      Bring to court all applicable records. Such records may include:

      • Rent receipts, canceled checks.
      • Leases.
      • Letters and notices to or from the landlord
      • Photographs
      • Other documents proving your case.

      If you have not paid rent because the landlord did not make necessary repairs, you have to prove to the court how serious the problems are and how they are affecting your use of the rented property. If you have not paid your rent, you should bring the amount the landlord claims you owe to court. Only cash, certified check, or money order made payable to the Treasurer, State of New Jersey, is acceptable.

    • Q. What Happens on the Day of Trial for Landlord/Tenant?

      Both the tenant and landlord must come to court at the time and date stated on the summons unless otherwise notified by the court. Bring all evidence and witnesses needed to present your case. If both the landlord and tenant appear, they might first be required to meet with a court approved mediator or settlor in an attempt to settle the case. This person is not a judge and will try to help the landlord and tenant settle their case.

      If an agreement is reached, agreement or settlement forms are available so that the agreement can be put in writing. It must be reviewed and/or approved by the judge when the tenant has no attorney representing them and it concerns residential property.

      Both the landlord and tenant will be able to present their case to the judge if they are unable to settle their case. If the judge decides in favor of the tenant, the case will be dismissed. If the judge decides in favor of the landlord, a "judgment for possession" will be granted. A judgment for possession is a court order that allows the landlord, within specific time limits, to have the tenant removed from the property (evicted) by a Special Civil Part Officer.

      If the landlord fails to appear at the scheduled date and time, the case will be dismissed against the landlord. If the tenant fails to appear at the scheduled date and time, the landlord will obtain a default, which means that the court is deciding in favor of the landlord. After the default, if the landlord files the required certification forms, the landlord will obtain a default judgment for possession.

      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 can be deposited with the Office of the Special Civil Part. The judgment will not get entered and/or it will get dismissed without prejudice and the tenant does not have to move out of the property. If the landlord’s complaint is for non-payment of rent and the residential tenant pays all of the rent due and owing, plus proper costs, within three business days after they are evicted, the landlord must accept and advise the court to dismiss the case with prejudice. The landlord can be subject to a statutory penalty of $500 if they fail to accept full payment, plus any proper court costs, fail to cooperate with a charitable organization or rental assistance program that had committed to pay the tenant’s rent and/or fails to notify the court to dismiss the case with prejudice

Glossary

Answer :

An Answer is a written response that explains why the defendant thinks they do not owe the money to the plaintiff in a court case.

Appeal :

An appeal is a written request asking a higher court to look at the decision of the judge and change that judge’s decision.

Certification :

A certification is a written statement made to the court when you file papers, swearing that the information contained in the filed papers is true.

Complaint :

 A complaint is a document in which you briefly tell the court the facts in your case and the relief you want the court to grant.

Counterclaim :

A Counterclaim is a claim added to defendant’s answer which asserts an affirmative claim for damages against the plaintiff.

Damages :

The amount of money the plaintiff sues for in a lawsuit is called damages.

Default :

When the defendant does not appear for trial to respond to the complaint or does not file an answer, a judge could rule in the plaintiff's favor. This is called a default. Also, if the plaintiff does not appear for trial, the court could dismiss the plaintiff's case.

Defendant :

The defendant is the person or business against whom a case is filed.

Dismiss :

If a lawsuit is dismissed by a judge, there is no longer a court case. This can happen if the plaintiff does not serve the papers to the defendant properly, fails to appear at a scheduled court event, or otherwise fails to follow through with their case.

Ejectment :

An ejectment is a lawsuit seeking to remove an unlawful occupant who is neither a legal tenant nor an owner of a property

Eviction :

An eviction is the removal of a renter performed by a special civil part officer during court business hours. It can be performed only after a judgment for possession and a warrant of removal is used and served on the tenant by a special civil part officer.

Fee waiver :

The court does not charge a filing fee for litigants who can prove that their income is no more than 150% of the current poverty level and that they have no more than $2,500 in cash and bank accounts.

File :

To file means to give the correct forms and fee to the court to begin the court’s consideration of your request.

Judgment :

A judgment is the official decision of a court in a case.

Judgment for possession :

A landlord can go to court to seek a judgment for possession to evict tenants who have failed to pay rent, failed to abide by a lease agreement, or other reasons allowed by law.

Litigant :

A litigant is person in a court case, either suing or being sued.

Motion :

motion is a written request in which you ask the court to issue an order, or to change an order it has already issued.

Order :

An order is a signed paper from the judge telling someone they must do something.

Party :

A party is a person, business or governmental agency involved in a court action.

Personal Identifier :

A personal identifier is any personal information that is unique to an individual, including Social Security number, military status, driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance policy number, active bank account and credit card numbers. This information could be used to steal someone’s identity or their money. All documents filed with the court are available for public inspection. Therefore no personal identifiers should be included on documents filed with the court

Plaintiff :

The plaintiff is the party who starts the lawsuit.

Redact :

To redact is to remove or to hide parts of a written document.

Return Date :

The return date is the date the plaintiff and defendant are told to appear in court.

Service :

Service is mailing or delivering copies of your papers to the lawyer for the other party or to the other party directly if they have no lawyer.

Service of Process :

Service of Process is the official delivery of the papers to the other party.

Summons :

summons is the paper that notifies the defendant that he or she is being sued and briefly explains the steps they need to take once they have received this notice.

Tenant :

A Tenant is a person or business that entered into a lawful agreement with a landlord or property owner that gives them the right to peaceful possession of a habitable rental property.

Testimony :

testimony is a formal statement given in a court of law.

Transcript :

transcript is a written record of everything that was said during a court hearing.

Warrant of Removal :

A warrant of removal is an order by the court that allows an eviction of a tenant at the request of the landlord.

Writ :

writ is an document issued by a court that orders a person, business or organization to do something.