NEW JERSEY COVID-19 EVICTION CASES WILL BECOME CONFIDENTIAL
On Wednesday June 30, 2021, the New Jersey Legislature passed NJ S.B. 3713 / A.B. 4463 (2021) (the “Act”), and it now awaits the signature of Governor Murphy. Under this act, certain New Jersey eviction court records during the pandemic must be kept confidential. The goal is to reduce renters that suffered hardship during the pandemic, and who otherwise have a good rental history, from finding new housing.
NEW RESTRICTIONS ON TENANT BACKGROUND CHECKS IN NEW JERSEY
On June 3, 2021, the New Jersey Legislature passed, and, on June 18, 2021, the Governor Phil Murphy signed, NJ S.B. 250 / A.B 1919 (2020), known as the Fair Chance in Housing Act (the “Act”). The purpose of the Act is to reduce the amount of recidivism amongst ex-convicts in the State of New Jersey. Statistics show that recidivism rates increase (and public safety decreases) when ex-convicts are unable to find stable housing. Consequently, the Act aims to reduce obstacles which may prevent ex-convicts from finding such housing by significantly altering how landlords may conduct background checks.
NEW YORK EXTENDS MORATORIUM ON EVICTIONS AND FORECLOSURES
On May 4, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed 2021 N.Y. SB 6362A. The Act amends chapter 381 of the 2020 laws establishing the “COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020,” as well as chapter 73 of the 2021 laws establishing the “COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Business Act of 2021.”
NEW JERSEY EXTENDS THE EVICTION MORATORIUM & ALL OTHER EXECUTIVE ORDERS RELATED TO COVID 19
On March 17, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed NJ Exec. Order No. 231 (2021). The executive order extends the current Public Health Emergency related to COVID‑19 for an additional thirty (30) days.
NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT FEBRUARY 5TH ORDER: APPLICATION FOR A COMMERCIAL LANDLORD/TENANT TRIAL IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES
On July 14, 2020, the Supreme Court of New Jersey authorized several steps to support the resumption of landlord/tenant case processing during the COVID-19 crisis. Namely, the Court carved out an exception to the suspension of landlord/tenant trials, allowing landlords to apply for issuance of an Order to Show Cause for evictions in emergency circumstances.
NJ Landlords Challenge Governor Murphy’s Security Deposit Executive Order
On April 24, 2020 Governor Phil Murphy signed NJ Exec. Order No. 128 (2020). This executive order waived laws governing security deposits and allowed tenants to use their security deposits to cover their rent during the COVID-19 crisis.
Federal Moratoriums Extended – What This Means For Landlords
As you may be aware, the Federal Stimulus Package, signed by President Trump on December 27, 2020, has temporarily extended the CDC Eviction Moratorium. The passage in Stimulus Package states as follows: SEC. 502. EXTENSION OF EVICTION MORATORIUM. The order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 264), entitled, “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions To Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19” (85 Fed. Reg. 55292 (September 4, 2020) is extended through January 31, 2021, notwithstanding the effective dates specified in such Order.
Update on Evictions in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the eviction moratorium was in place until August 31, 2020. Following this, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a temporary national moratorium on most evictions for nonpayment of rent lasting until December 31, 2020. However, residents would have to be eligible to fall under these protections, which prevents a landlord from even proceeding with an eviction case (which includes the filing and sending of certain notices), after receiving a declaration from a tenant stating they are experiencing a hardship as a result of the pandemic. However, the state protections in Pennsylvania have lapsed. There are efforts going through the Pennsylvania legislature to extend the eviction moratorium, but they have so far been unsuccessful. There also currently does not exist any order permitting tenants to utilize their security deposit for rent in Pennsylvania.
Update on Evictions in New Jersey
As most are already aware of, residential tenants in New Jersey cannot currently be locked out of their homes during the COVID-19 emergency. The New Jersey governor, on October 24, 2020 signed another executive order, Number 186, which extends the Public Health Emergency that was declared on March 9, 2020 through Executive Order No. 103, which was previously extended on April 7, May 6, June 4, July 2, August 1, August 27, and September 25. By the Governor’s Order, there is a moratorium on residential evictions and foreclosures. Commercial tenants are not subject to the moratorium.
EXTENSION ON COMMERCIAL EVICTIONS IN NEW YORK
On October 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.70, which further strengthens tenants’ protections during the COVID-19 pandemic, this time for commercial tenants. The Executive Order extends New York State’s moratorium on COVID-related commercial evictions and foreclosures through January 1, 2021. Governor Cuomo states that the “extension of this protection gives commercial tenants and mortgagors additional time to get back on their feet and catch up on rent or their mortgage, or to renegotiate their lease terms to avoid foreclosure moving forward”.