It has been a tough couple of years for New Jersey landlords due to COVID related rules and restrictions imposed by the government. The scheme permitted working tenants to remain in their apartments without paying rent for 18 months, and then prevented their landlords from evicting them for non-payment of rent. At the same time, the State is holding up hundreds of millions of dollars received from the Federal government and not distributing that to landlords who are struggling to pay their mortgages and property taxes. While New Jersey may have put a moratorium on evictions, it did not put a moratorium on mortgage payments and property taxes for landowners.
During the pandemic shutdown, the State failed to impose any kind of means test on delinquent tenants, to see who could actually pay rent and who could not. That could have been a simple disclosure form confirming income and employment, upon the filing of a non-payment eviction complaint. The courts could have and should have permitted the eviction of non-paying tenants who were working and had the means to pay rent. That would have also avoided the current backlog of tens of thousands of eviction cases.
That backlog has real consequences for landlords. I recently spoke to a landlord with a no pet clause in his lease whose tenant brought in a pit bull without the landlord’s consent. The tenant refuses to remove these dogs despite the landlord’s request. The landlord does not want the liability for the dog’s potential actions, and the tenant fails to clean up after the dog. The police and health department refuse to help. Under the current state of the law, the landlord must serve a notice to cease, followed by a notice to quit, followed by the filing of an eviction case which will be delayed for many months due to the backlog.
Yet if that pit bull attacks a child, rest assured that the landlord will be sued for negligence. The court system does not give the landlord any avenue for swiftly dealing with this issue. Once someone is injured, it is too late.
It is time for New Jersey residents to demand that our government make some common sense legal adjustments to right these wrongs, for everyone’s protection. We represent landlords, call us today.