New NJ Law to Provide Eviction Moratorium to Tenants in Pandemic

2021-09-03 13:12:03 - Landlord Tenant

On August 4, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey signed new legislation (S-3691) and issued Executive Order 249 to provide comprehensive financial assistance for New Jersey renters in need. The new law continues the March 2020 Executive Order 106 issued by the Governor, which effectively suspended the eviction of renters all through the state. Except in rare cases, the executive order put a moratorium on the removal of any tenant from their home resulting from an eviction judgment. The moratorium allowed the continuation of court proceedings of landlord-tenant cases while preventing removals and lockouts.

The latest legislation seeks to protect against eviction and provide utility assistance to renters who have been financially harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some households may not come under this protection. Those renters who fail to get protection from the new state moratorium may still be protected by the federal eviction moratorium.


The State Eviction Moratorium

The newly enacted legislation (S-3691) protects residents of New Jersey from eviction for non-payment of rent. The new law ensures that an eviction moratorium for all state residents will continue through either August 31, 2021 or December 31, 2021 based on household income levels. 

  • Those households that are living with due rent accrued from March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2021 and with a combined household income at or below 120 percent of the area median income (AMI) will be protected by the moratorium until August 31, 2021; 
  • Households with a combined income of less than 80 percent of the AMI will be protected until December 31, 2021. Your landlord can still sue during this period to collect any back rent amount. 

You can find out if your household is eligible for protection under the new legislation by completing the Income Self-Certification Form. If you are eligible, you can submit this form to the court to prevent eviction for non-payment of rent.

The Federal Eviction Moratorium

Renters who qualify for the state moratorium on eviction through December 31, 2021 do not need to apply for protection through the federal government. Those who do not qualify should check to determine if they can receive protection under the federal eviction moratorium. This effectively stops lockouts through October 4, 2021.

An order issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on August 3, 2021 aims to protect tenants from eviction if they meet certain requirements. To find out if you qualify, contact the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at (800) 569-4287.

Tenants seeking protection under the federal eviction moratorium should complete the Eviction Protection Declaration as provided by the CDC and hand it over to their landlord.

Illegal Lockout by Landlord

Under New Jersey law, it is a criminal offense for a landlord to lock out a tenant who is protected by an eviction moratorium. Only the courts have the authority to order evictions to be executed by government officials for the removal of tenants. If your landlord illegally locks you out, call the local police to help you get back into your home. You may show police this guidance to law enforcement document, issued by the New Jersey Attorney General, to help them understand their role and obligations.