ROBERT W. EVANS reports on August 4th, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law S3691 which, as of now, signals the beginning of the end of the eviction moratorium due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pursuant to S3691, Executive Order 106 (which put a moratorium on all evictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic) expired as of August 4th, 2021, for all evictions other than non-payment of rent, habitual late payment, or failure to pay a rent increase.
This portion of the bill was critical to many landlords due to the fact that while Executive Order 106 was in effect, a landlord-tenant trial (for reasons other than non-payment of rent) could only be scheduled by filing a complaint and (either simultaneously or subsequently) an Order to Show Cause alleging that “emergent circumstances” existed. This emergent circumstance threshold was subjective as there was no case law for which either litigants or their lawyers or the courts could look to when assessing a situation. As a result, there was much uncertainty when attempting to remove tenants for reasons other than non-payment of rent.
Furthermore, even when the emergent circumstances threshold was met, a landlord-tenant trial was scheduled and a judgment for possession entered in favor of the landlord, “new” changing circumstances (i.e. a tenant who refused to remove a dangerous dog, but after the judgment for possession was entered finally did remove it) could result in the warrant of removal not meeting the “interest of justice” requirement outlined in Executive Order 106. Such a situation would put the case into an indefinite standstill whereby the judgment for possession was entered but due to the matter not meeting the “interest of justice” requirement under Executive Order 106, the warrant of removal could not be executed and the tenant was unable to be removed from the premises.
With enactment of S3691, this three-step process (complaint/order to show cause “emergent circumstances”, trial, and “interest of justice” threshold) has now been extinguished and these cases now are to proceed in the ordinary course. There is no longer a required “emergent circumstance” criterion via an Order to Show Cause or an “interest of justice” threshold under Executive Order 106 that must be met to either schedule a landlord-tenant trial or to effectuate the execution of a warrant of removal.
In essence, the legal requirements that must be met to remove a tenant in cases for reasons other than non-payment of rent, habitual late payment, or failure to pay a rent increase have gone back to pre-pandemic days. However, given the new landlord-tenant court rules enacted by the New Jersey Supreme Court, landlord-tenant matters will not be proceeding in the same expedited fashion as they once did prior to COVID-19. A further discussion of the new landlord-tenant court rules will be discussed next month.
For any questions you have concerning this article, please contact Robert W. Evans at email@example.com or by calling 973-740-1550.