On January 01, 2022, New Jersey’s statewide moratorium ended for tenants who had failed to pay rents during the pandemic. This means landlords can evict you if you haven’t paid rent before March 2020 and, after August 31, 2021, if you haven’t filled and submitted the income self-certification form. The Statute provides you additional protection against eviction if your household income is less than 80% of the median income of your county. Much of the form is easy enough to fill.
Image source: https://covid19.nj.gov/forms/renterform
After you fill out the forms, any outstanding eviction court case against you for non-payment of rent could be dismissed. Landlords won’t be able to file a case during the period of protection. However, even if you’ve completed the form, landlords can pursue eviction for non-payment of rent accrued after December 2021.
There could be many reasons why you’re unable to make rent. You may have lost your job or had to incur huge medical expenses due to the pandemic. Housing is expensive and you may not have an alternative accommodation to move into. Also, there are other consequences of eviction, including a lowered credit score and future hassles in getting a house for rent. Know that you have options to stay eviction process, including bankruptcy laws.
A Look at the Eviction Notice
The landlord has to follow each step in the eviction process to evict you. A judge has to be convinced that there is a cause for your eviction as per the Anti-Eviction Act. This could be due to non-payment of rent, a breach of the lease agreement, illegal activities on the premises, or disorderly conduct. If you think you are being evicted due to unfair reasons, or the reasons are not listed in the Anti-Eviction Act, you can argue against the notice in court. You can also get an eviction complaint rejected if the landlord fails to provide you with proper notice to quit before taking you to court. Remember, a landlord is not required to serve notice in case of non-payment of rent.
Is the Property Registered?
If your landlord hasn’t registered the property with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs in Trenton, the judge will not consider the eviction notice valid. Moreover, the landlord can be fined if you file a complaint in municipal court. The postponement will give you extra time to relocate or pay the rent owed.
File for Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is used to avoid foreclosure or sheriff sales. When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it will prevent the landlord from filing an eviction case against you in court. Your landlord will also not be able to keep billing you for past rent. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can negotiate a 3 to 5-year payment plan to pay off debts sans interest. This could be beneficial for both you and your landlord. However, bankruptcy laws can’t stop the eviction if you are being evicted due to bad behavior or improper conduct.
Many renters are unaware of these protections. You need to know that you can’t be evicted the day after you miss a payment. It is a legal process. If you come back home to find a locked door, it is an illegal eviction. Know your rights, and consult an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to find a solution.