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Procedural Requirements for Notifying a Tenant of Eviction

June 14, 2018 | Category: Landlord/Tenant Law | Share

In New Jersey, and throughout the country, a tenant may be evicted under certain circumstances (i.e., rent nonpayment, disorderly conduct, willful destruction of property, violation of rules in the rental agreement, etc.), but it’s important to note that landlords are not bestowed with unlimited power with respect to evictions. 

Landlords must act in accordance with the various procedural rules imposed on them by the state of New Jersey — particularly with regard to notification of their intent to evict the tenant.

Failure to give a tenant notice (when required by the law) could lead to a delay in the eviction process, as the notice will be deemed “invalid” by the court and a corrected notice will have to be submitted.  Until that time, the tenant may choose to stay in the rental unit without threat of forcible removal.

Given that landlords can sustain substantial additional costs for improper or inadequate eviction notices, it’s worth consulting an experienced attorney for guidance on the eviction process.

What procedure is required?  Let’s take a broad look at the notice requirements.

Evictions Have Different Procedural Requirements

New Jersey law gives landlords the right to prematurely remove the tenant from the rental premises (e.g. eviction) for cause only.  You cannot evict a tenant without cause.  There are a number of different “causes,” and each have different procedural requirements.  Except for nonpayment of rent, all “causes” require a Notice to Quit the premises, and some even require a preliminary Notice to Cease the problematic activity.

Numbers vary significantly, as well — for example, if your tenant damages the rental unit, you will only have to give a Notice to Quit three days before filing for eviction, whereas if your tenant violates some provision of the rental agreement, you will have to give a Notice to Quit one month in advance of filing for eviction.

Consider the following.

No Notice to Quit Required

  • Nonpayment of rent (except where the failure to pay rent was based on tenant’s need to pay for utility services that the landlord failed to pay)

Notice to Cease Required (Before Notice to Quit)

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Violation of the rental agreement
  • Late rental payments

Notice to Quit Only

  • Threats made against the landlord
  • Drug-related conviction
  • Damage to the rental unit

After providing the Notice to Cease, you may not necessarily be entitled to provide a Notice to Quit (and begin the countdown towards filing for eviction) unless the tenant continues said behavior.

For example, suppose that the tenant has been throwing loud parties every Thursday night, disturbing the other tenants.  In an effort to keep the peace, you request the tenant stop throwing such loud parties on Thursday night.  The tenant does not listen, however.  You may therefore serve a Notice to Cease the problematic behavior.  If the tenant does not stop throwing parties, then you are entitled to serve a Notice to Quit.  Once the Notice to Quit has been properly served, it does not matter that the tenant later “stops.”

How to Properly Serve Notices

Notices must be personally served on the tenant, and must include important information relating to the eviction, such as the cause giving rise to the eviction, the date of expected eviction, and more.  If the notice does not contain such information, then it may be deemed invalid, and the court will not proceed with the eviction process until a corrected notice has been served.

In some cases, of course, the tenant may attempt to avoid service by minimizing contact with the landlord.  Fortunately, New Jersey law will consider notice proper so long as it is left with any member of the family at the rental unit above 14 years old, or with any other person in possession of the rental unit.

Speak With an Attorney Experienced in Handling New Jersey Landlord-Tenant Disputes

If you are attempting to evict your tenant, then you may be confused as to your responsibilities under New Jersey law.  Failure to follow proper procedure when evicting a tenant can delay or even undermine your otherwise legitimate action.

Here at Griffin Alexander, P.C., our attorneys have decades of combined experience handling disputes related to New Jersey landlord tenant law.  We are therefore well-positioned to guide you successfully through the eviction process, from the procedural issues associated with notification and service, to the complicated legal concerns typical of a dispute.

Call (973) 366-1188 to get connected to an experienced attorney today.