A common misconception relating to residential evictions in New Jersey is the belief that if a tenant is a month-to-month tenant, that tenant can be evicted upon 30 days’ notice. Generally, unless the tenancy is in an owner-occupied building with no more than two rental units (not including the landlord’s unit), a tenant cannot be evicted except for “cause” or “fault” on the part of the tenant as defined in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1. This is true whether the tenant has a written lease for a specific term or is a tenant without a written lease, commonly called a “month to month” tenant. There are seventeen (17) grounds for eviction in the statute, under subsections “a.” through “q.”
The most common ground for eviction is non-payment of rent. However, disorderly conduct, non-monetary violations of the lease, habitual late payment of rent and failure to accept reasonable lease changes may also be grounds for eviction. Except for non-payment of rent, in order to evict a tenant for other grounds, a landlord must provide the tenant with certain notices. The notice requirements applicable to the specific ground for eviction must be specific and strictly complied with before filing a summary dispossess action to remove the tenant from the premises. Some grounds require that the tenant be served with both a “notice to cease” and a “notice to quit”, before an action for possession can be filed. Many a complaint for eviction has been dismissed by the court simply due to the failure of the landlord to provide the proper notices to the tenant or a failure to attach those notices to the complaint for possession.
Therefore, a careful review of the relevant statutory sections is critical before filing to evict a residential tenant in New Jersey.
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The grounds for eviction may be found in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1. The notice provisions may be found in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2.