This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.
This page was last updated on Sep 17th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
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Emergency Protections during COVID
Do renters have protections against eviction during the Covid-19 emergency?
Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?
Have you received a warning notice from your landlord, like a ‘Notice to Quit’ or a ‘Notice to Leave’? Find what options you have.
Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?
Has your landlord filed an eviction lawsuit in court? Have you received a Summons and Complaint? Learn what rights and options you have.
Behind on Rent?
Find local programs that can help you with housing costs, or work out a plan with your landlord.
New Jersey's eviction protections have expired as of December 31, 2021. Tenants may still be able to get help with rent that they owe.
Earlier, New Jersey had passed a law that renters making less than 80% of area median income are protected from eviction through December 31, 2021. This is for evictions based on non-payment of rent, for rent due during the COVID emergency.
Renters (with income above 80% of area median income) had been protected from eviction through August 31, 2021. That protection is now expired.
The protection means that after December 31, 2021 in New Jersey:
Yes, New Jersey renters must still pay their rent.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
New Jersey utility companies have agreed not to shut off utilities during the emergency because a customer is unable to pay.
You still have an obligation to pay your utility bill. Check for financial help.
Landlords are never allowed to engage in self-help eviction and shut off a renter’s utilities in an attempt force a tenant out. Self-help eviction is illegal. Call the police if this happens. If the police are not helpful, then you may seek court intervention. If you need legal assistance, please contact your local bar association or Legal Services of New Jersey.
Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.
The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.
Emergency repairs could be for problems with:
If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs and keep a copy of this communication.
Contact your local code enforcement officer in your municipality for further assistance.
Find legal help to get advice for your situation.
You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.
Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period. However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.
Also, you can review your lease. This is very unlikely but it may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of section, you might be able to break the lease, in some cases penalty-free.
Find legal help to get advice for your situation.
Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must file an eviction lawsuit against you, win the case, and get an eviction order from the court. Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.
Find legal help to protect your rights.
Eviction hearings are proceeding through New Jersey courts.
Even if you have protections, the courts may still schedule conferences, including to get contact information from the parties and to conduct settlement negotiations (mediations) in an effort to resolve matters.
Settlements are voluntary and you should still seek legal advice.
Check with your local courts for more information.
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
You do not have to leave your home yet. Check whether your notice is legally valid, depending on your situation.
If you live in a private home, and are being evicted for nonpayment of rent:
In New Jersey, your landlord does not have to serve you with a notice stating you must pay your rent or you must vacate. In most cases, the landlord can proceed with eviction for nonpayment of rent by simply filing a complaint for eviction based on nonpayment of rent.
If you live in public housing or federally subsidized housing, and are being evicted for nonpayment of rent:
Your landlord must provide you with a notice that they are terminating your tenancy before they file an eviction complaint in court.
If your landlord is suing you for back rent they say you owe:
If the landlord wants to seek a money judgment against a tenant for rent money owed, then the landlord may file a complaint in the civil division for breach of contract to collect the back rent. The landlord does not need to provide written notice prior to the institution of lawsuit seeking money damages.
For situations when a landlord must give you a notice before filing for eviction, they must follow specific rules to be valid. This warning notice is called a notice to quit. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.
These are New Jersey’s requirements for a Notice to Quit:
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction. Find legal help here.
A tenant can only be evicted through a court process. The landlord must go through the courts in order to have a tenant evicted.
A landlord cannot take the law into his or her own hands (self-help eviction). Self-help eviction is against the law and is a criminal offense.
Call the police if the landlord locks you out. Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the notice to quit.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
After the date on the notice to quit passes, your landlord then may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
Find legal help here to prepare for going to court.
Find local financial help at your New Jersey Get Help page.
Be sure to let the local group know that you have received an eviction notice and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan.
In New Jersey, you have a minimum of 3 days between your landlord giving you a notice and them filing a lawsuit against you in court to evict you. You will usually have much longer to pay back your rent - you can even pay the day of your hearing.
The notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you. If they are giving you less than 3 days, then you may be able to challenge it as illegal.
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't giving you the required time to make your payment.
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit.
In New Jersey, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.
In New Jersey, you are required to show up to the court, if you want to avoid the eviction. If the tenant does not show up, the landlord will win by default.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
You can come to an agreement outside of court, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.
Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.
Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.
Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.
You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.
You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.
You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.
Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.
Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.
Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.
Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.
The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.
Find legal groups that can help you with housing problems, landlords, roommates, Section 8, domestic violence, discrimination, and more.Find Legal Services
Find groups that can help you pay the rent, cover utility costs, and get other housing-related assistance.Find Financial Help
Find help with other problems, like domestic violence, health coverage, food benefits, mental health, and other issues.Find Other Services
State information is taken from these sources:Legal Services of New JerseyNJ utilities informationGov. order on evictionsSupreme Court orderPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect Tracker
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