New Jersey Eviction Process
November 3, 2023
We’d love to connect with you.
Eviction In New Jersey
If you own and rent properties in the state of New Jersey, you are responsible for complying with New Jersey eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in New Jersey.
Eviction Process in New Jersey
- Landlord serves a notice to cease.
- Landlord serves a formal eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant a summons.
- Tenant completes a Tenant Case Information Statement (TCIS)
- Landlord and tenant attend case management conference.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets three days to move out.
- Civil part officer arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
In New Jersey, tenants can be evicted for any of the following reasons:
- Failing to pay rent once
- Habitually failing to pay rent on time
- Violating the lease
- Breaking the law
- Holding over
- Refusing to accept a reasonable lease change
- Disorderly conduct (disturbing the peace and quiet of the landlord or other tenants)
- Willfully damaging, destroying, or injuring the property
- Engaging in illegal activity on the premises, including drug, terrorism, human trafficking, theft, or assault-related offenses.
1. Landlord Serves a Notice to Cease
When a tenant living in a multifamily complex (more than three units) fails to pay rent, commits disorderly conduct, or violated another lease term, landlords in New Jersey must first serve a Notice to Cease (NJSA § 2A:18-61.1(b-e)). A Notice to Cease is not a formal eviction notice but instead a warning that informs the tenant they have broken the lease and reminds them that repeating the violation will result in eviction proceedings.
The Notice to Cease must give the tenant a “reasonable” amount of time to fix the breach, although New Jersey law doesn’t specify exactly how many days to provide—that’s up to the landlord to decide. For example, in Brunswick Street Assoc. V. Gerard, the Superior Court of New Jersey ruled that five days was not enough time for an unauthorized occupant who had been living in a unit to find a new place to live. For other violations, (e.g., a noise complaint), you could reasonably expect a tenant to cease the behavior immediately.
2. Landlord Serves a Formal Eviction Notice
The next step in the New Jersey eviction process is sending a formal eviction notice. If the tenant does not stop the behavior, the landlord can send a formal eviction notice, or Notice to Quit. There are four possible eviction notices a landlord may send by New Jersey law:
- Rent Demand Notice: Immediate. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord may file an eviction action immediately after providing notice. Note that tenants can still “cure” the default by paying all overdue rent and court costs (NJSA § 2A:18-61.2, § 2A:18-55).
- Rent Demand Notice (Habitual Failure to Pay Rent): 1 month to quit. If the tenant has habitually failed to pay their rent on time, and the landlord has previously accepted late payments (e.g., during the grace period), the landlord must send this eviction notice stating that the tenant has one month to move out. If the tenant does not move out within that month, the landlord may then file an eviction action (NJSA § 2A:18-61.2).
- Lease Violation Notice: 1 month to quit. If a tenant violates another lease term, continually violates the rules or regulations of the law, or refuses to accept a reasonable lease change, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate (not less than one month after receipt of the notice) (NJSA § 2A:18-61.2(3)(b)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 3 days to quit. If the tenant commits disorderly conduct, injury to the premises, or illegal activity, the landlord must send this notice stating the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate (not less than three days after receipt of the notice) (NJSA § 2A:18-61.2(3)(a)).
All eviction notices should be served personally to the tenant or to a family member above the age of 14 years old at the property (NJSA § 2A:18-53). If no one is available at the unit, the notice may also be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises, such as the front door (NJSA § 2A:18-54)
For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.
3. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
After the notice period expires, the landlord can then file an eviction action in the special civil part of the New Jersey Superior Court.
It’s important to note that according to New Jersey law, landlords who are a business entity (partnerships, corporations, LLCs, etc.) must be represented by an attorney in landlord-tenant cases. If you are a sole proprietor or general partnership, you can file your own paperwork and represent yourself in court (njcourts.gov). However, you’ll still be responsible for knowing and complying with the rules of the court.
To file a complaint in landlord-tenant court, the landlord needs to complete and submit three forms:
- Verified Complaint (downloadable here). This is the eviction lawsuit. It includes both parties’ names and addresses.
- Tenancy Summons and Return of Service (downloadable here). This will be served to the tenant to demand their presence in court.
- Landlord Case Information Statement (downloadable here). This document includes information like the case docket number, landlord contact information, the basis for the eviction, the type of housing, the rent, and other details.
For cases claiming $5,000 or less, the landlord will need to pay a filing fee of $50, plus $5 per additional tenant. The fee is increased to $75 when the landlord is claiming more than $5,000 (njcourts.gov).
4. Court Serves Tenant a Summons
After the landlord completes the Tenancy Summons and Return of Service form, a copy must be served to the tenant demanding their presence in court. The summons will also state the day and time of the court hearing, which will be held between ten and 30 days after the summons is issued (NJ Court Rule 6:2-1).
There are two ways a tenant can receive the summons—either by service of a special civil part officer or service of the sheriff or other officer. If a special civil part officer serves this summons, the fee will be $7 for mail service or $10 ($3 reservice fee plus $7 service of process fee) for personal service to the tenant (njcourts.gov, Special Civil: A Guide to the Court). For each additional tenant served personally, $12 is added. If the sheriff or other officer serves it, the fee will be $22 plus a cost for mileage. An extra $20 is added for each additional tenant served, except in cases of married couples, who count as one tenant under New Jersey law (NJSA § 22A:4-8).
5. Tenant Completes a Tenant Case Information Statement (TCIS)
Tenants in New Jersey must go to court to defend against the landlord’s claims – they don’t have the option of filing a written response. Before the hearing, however, the tenant must complete a Tenant Case Information Statement (TCIS) (downloadable here). This form asks for basic information about the tenant’s situation and the disagreement. It must be completed and filed with the court at least five days before the next step, the case management conference.
6. Landlord and Tenant Attend Case Management Conference
Next, the court will schedule a mandatory case management conference (NJ Court Rules 4:5B). This conference (most are online) is not the hearing but instead a space for the landlord and tenant to try to resolve or settle the case without going to trial. The tenant can also receive more information about different types of assistance (e.g., rent or legal assistance) at the conference that may help them work out an agreement with the landlord.
7. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
If no settlement was reached at the case management conference, the case will move to trial.
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. The landlord and tenant can still reach a settlement at the trial. If they do not, however, both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment.
If the judge rules in the landlord’s favor, the court will enter a judgment for possession. The landlord may also submit a Request for Residential Warrant of Removal (downloadable here), which is the document authorizing an officer to remove the tenant from the premises. The warrant will be issued three days after the judgment for possession (NJSA § 2A:18-57).
8. Tenant Gets Three Days to Move Out
If the tenant does not move out after the court hearing, the landlord can arrange for a civil part officer to serve the tenant(s) with the Warrant of Removal (downloadable here). After this warrant is served, the tenant has an additional three business days to move out of the property.
For nonpayment cases, the tenant can still avoid eviction by paying all overdue rent and court costs in full. They can do so for a full three days after an eviction to have the case dismissed and be restored possession of the property.
9. Civil Part Officer Returns to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
If the tenant does not move out or pay all costs in full, the civil part officer will return to carry out the warrant and forcibly remove the tenant from the property (NJSA § 2A:18-58).
The tenant does still have a few options after the judgment is issued against them:
- Tenants can request an Order for Orderly Removal, which would grant them up to seven calendar days to move out instead of three business days.
- The tenant can also request a hardship stay to stop the eviction for up to six months.
- In rare legal circumstances, the tenant can also ask the court to vacate (undo) the judgment for possession.
- If the tenant has a documented terminal illness and has rented from the landlord for at least two years, they may request a stay of eviction. The court will grant a stay of up to one year if it is evident that the tenant wouldn’t be able to move to a new rental without serious medical harm (NJSA § 2A:18-59.1).
If a tenant leaves behind personal belongings after the eviction, the landlord should first send written notice by certified mail to the tenant’s last address. The notice should state that if the tenant does not remove the items within 30 days after receiving the notice or 33 days after the date of mailing (whichever comes first), the landlord may sell the items of value it at a public or private sale and destroy or dispose of the rest (NJSA § 2A:18-72 to 2A:18-80).
The tenant may return to claim their belongings any time within the 30-33 days. During this time, the landlord should store all items in a place of safekeeping with reasonable care, such as at the rental nit or in a commercial storage facility. Perishable food may be thrown out, and any pets abandoned on the premises should be removed by an animal control agency or humane society. The landlord may charge reasonable/actual storage costs to the tenant (NJSA § 2A:18-75).
Evicting a Squatter in New Jersey
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria.
In New Jersey, squatters must have lived in the property for 30 consecutive years (or 60 years for woodland areas), obtained color of title for at least as long, and paid property taxes for at least five consecutive years of the occupation to invoke New Jersey squatters rights and claim right of possession (NJRS § 2A:14-30 to 2A:14-32). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they can file an action for adverse possession in New Jersey to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in New Jersey, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per New Jersey eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
New Jersey Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of the New Jersey eviction process timeline, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Filing fee||$50, plus $5 per additional tenant|
|Service of court summons||$7 to $22 + mileage|
|Warrant for possession||$35 + mileage|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
New Jersey Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the New Jersey tenant eviction process. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Notice to cease period||Reasonable|
|Eviction notice period||Immediate – 1 month|
|Issuance/service of summons||Varies based on method of service|
|Filing of Tenant Case Information Sheet||At least 5 days before Case Management Conference|
|Eviction hearing||10-30 days after issuance of summons|
|Issuance of warrant of removal||3 business days after judgment is entered|
|Time to quit after warrant is posted||3 business days|
|Total||3 weeks – 3 months|
- Verified Complaint
- Tenancy Summons and Return of Service
- Landlord Case Information Statement
- Tenant Case Information Statement
- Request for Residential Warrant of Removal
- Warrant of Removal
- New Jersey Landlord-Tenant Forms and Information – A link to the New Jersey court’s website, with a complete summary of the eviction process plus information about court fees, forms, and filing procedures.
- New Jersey Eviction Law Consolidated – This is a direct link to New Jersey’s laws on eviction, compiled in one document.
- Special Civil: A Guide to the Court – This document, published by the New Jersey Judiciary, is a guide to the types of claims, procedures, and fees to expect in the Special Civil section of the Superior Court of New Jersey.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and New Jersey laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.