As a result of the pandemic, the New Jersey courts ceased scheduling eviction trials
in March 2020. There is no advice as to when that will be resumed. In the meantime,
landlords are obligated to pay their mortgage, taxes, and other operating expenses while
tenants withhold their rent. It is cold comfort that a landlord may eventually obtain an uncollectible money judgment against the tenant at some point in the future.
The court did enter an Order in July of this year allowing landlords in “emergent circumstances” to apply for an Order to Show Cause for eviction. That application cannot be based on non-payment of rent, which rules out most eviction matters. In determining whether to issue the Order to Show Cause, the court will review the complaint and determine whether an emergency exists “(e.g. violence against other tenants, criminal activity, extreme damage to the residence, death of tenant resulting in the vacancy of the rental unit)”, and based on that determination may schedule a landlord/tenant trial. It should be noted that the examples of an emergency are not inclusive, but clearly, it must be a serious cause, and not for non-payment of rent.
That brings me to my case involving an elderly landlord who had been threatened with physical harm on several occasions by his tenant who owed him a substantial amount of rent.
We did apply for the Order to Show Cause on those facts as an emergency, and the court
granted us a telephonic hearing to determine whether the case would be scheduled for a trial
as an exception. Happily, the judge did agree to schedule a trial within two weeks, which caused
the tenant to offer to move at the end of the month. That offer was accepted by my client and put into the form of an enforceable order. The tenant then moved out on a timely basis, and the landlord was able to re-rent to a new tenant.
It is critical for attorneys to keep informed about these developments in the law so they can explain all of the options to their clients. I was pleased to secure this result for my satisfied client.