New Jersey Enacts Legislation Extending Eviction Moratorium for Some Renters

New Jersey Enacts Legislation Extending Eviction Moratorium for Some Renters

Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed legislation into law modifying New Jersey’s eviction moratorium...

Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed legislation into law modifying New Jersey’s eviction moratorium.  The State had previously enacted legislation that extended the eviction moratorium through the end of 2021, but this new law shortens the previous moratorium for renters that do not meet certain income and other requirements.  Renters with household incomes below 120% of the Area Medium Income (AMI) get protection from eviction through August and households with incomes below 80% AMI will receive protection through the end of the year.  Separately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the nationwide moratorium on evictions for 60 days. 

Among other provisions, the legislation, Senate Bill 3691, also appropriates an additional $500 million for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CVERAP) and $250 million for utility assistance. “We have heard the continuing calls for help from New Jerseyans who are struggling to pay their rent and utilities. COVID-19 has put tenants and landlords in a difficult place, and I am pleased to say that more assistance is on the way,”Gov. Murphy said in a press statement.“This bill is going to direct money to the people and programs that need it most. Housing and access to utilities are fundamental to human health and safety and we want to ensure that as many eligible applicants impacted by the pandemic get the help they need during this challenging time.” 

New Timeline for Expiration of Eviction Moratorium

New Jersey’s new eviction protection law gradually phases out the State’s eviction moratorium based on individual renters’ income level. Specifically, it protects very low-, low-, moderate-, and middle-income households from residential evictions based upon nonpayment or habitual late payment of rent, or a failure to pay a rent increase, that accrued during the covered period, which began on March 1, 2020, and would last until the end of August 2021.  However, for certain very low, low-, and moderate-income tenants, eviction protections would last until the end of 2021.  S-3691 defines very low-income, low-income, moderate-income, and middle-income households as those with incomes of 30 percent or less than, 50 percent or less than, between 50 and 80 percent of, and 80 percent to 120 percent of the area median income, respectively. 

Under the new law, payments made by a tenant after the covered period ends will be credited first to the current month’s rental obligation, and any balance would be credited to any arrearage owed by the tenant. While tenants who are covered by the law’s protection may not be evicted, landlords may pursue unpaid rent through a money judgment.

Under S-3691, any amount of unpaid rent due either prior to the start of the covered period or after the covered period ends may be pursued in the manner allowed by law for any other landlord-tenant action for rent due outside of the covered period.  Eviction protections will continue to apply to very low-, low-, and moderate-income household tenants through the end of 2021 if the tenant household certifies, under penalty of perjury, (1) the amount of the household’s income, (2) that the household was unable to pay rent due to circumstances arising from the pandemic, and (3) that the household has applied for certain rental assistance programs.  These certifications must be made on a form provided by the Department of Community Affairs (Department).  When completed, the tenant must provide a copy to the landlord, and to the court if facing a pending eviction action.

Additional Provisions of Senate Bill 3691

New Jersey’s new eviction prevention law also contains several other important provisions. They include the following:

  • All New Jersey households with income less than 120 percent AMI may apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
  • Landlords who are receiving rental assistance must waive any late fees accrued by tenants during the special protections period.
  • Landlords may not report delayed rent to debt collection or credit reporting agencies and they cannot sell the debt.
  • Landlords may not disclose non-payment of rent to another residential landlord.
  • Prospective landlords may not deny renting to a person who wasn’t able to pay rent during the covered period of March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021.
  • The moratorium on home foreclosures will end on November 15, 2021, for all income levels. This includes landlords facing foreclosure who currently have tenants.

Key Takeaway

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, restrictions on evictions are gradually being lifted. We encourage lenders, borrowers, tenants, and landlords to stay up-to-date on legal developments at both the state and local level and contact experienced counsel to determine how you may be impacted.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact Matt Kane, Christopher Dzwilewski, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

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AboutMatthew I. Kane

Matthew I. “Matt” Kane devotes his practice to a wide range of real estate transactions, from the purchase and sale of single and multi-family homes, to the acquisition, financing and disposition of multi-million dollar commercial properties.Full Biography

AboutChristopher A. Dzwilewski

Chris devotes his practice to residential and commercial real estate transactions, evictions, and landlord and tenant matters. He represents clients in the purchase, sale, leasing and financing of all types of commercial and residential real estate. He also represents multibillion dollar financial institutions with respect to post foreclosure evictions.Full Biography

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