A MESSAGE REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS

First, to all my existing clients, I hope you and your families are healthy and safe. I understand that your financial livelihood may be at risk due to health care, but I hope you have been reminded that your health is truly the most important thing. If you have been trying to reach me, I have been working without a secretary since March. I am answering the telephones, making trips to the post office and bank, and doing every other administrative task by myself. I hope to have someone back in the office in September.


There is still nothing happening with evictions in New Jersey. In March, the governor ordered a moratorium on residential lockouts (https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-106.pdf). The moratorium is in effect until two months after the Public Health Emergency or State of Emergency established by Executive Order No. 103 (https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-103.pdf). While evictions and foreclosures may be initiated during the moratorium, no judgment or writ of possession or warrant of removal may be executed, which means, no lockouts. Thus, landlords may still file cases against tenants, but there will be no lockout. The only exception to the lockout ban is if the court, on its own motion or the landlord’s motion, determines that the lockout is warranted in the interest of justice.


In addition to the lockout moratorium, the landlord-tenant court is still not functioning. While court facilities are officially open, only 15% of judiciary staff are on-site and remote proceedings are taking place only in limited cases. The courts are still just in the second phase of re-opening, and the Supreme Court of New Jersey has announced that the last phase will conclude when a vaccine is available or herd immunity is established. Given that evictions comprise a substantial volume of court filings and involve large numbers of litigants in one area, it does not seem likely that any residential evictions will occur for quite some time, even if the state of emergency ends soon.


Landlords that participate in federal housing programs (i.e., public housing, Section 8, etc.), or have a federally backed mortgage loan (any mortgage purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or in any way insured, guaranteed, supplemented, or assisted by the federal government, may not file a complaint about eviction for non-payment of rent, or charge late fees, until July 25, 2020 (120 days from the date of passage of the federal CARES Act). As I read the statute as it relates to New Jersey law, the number of units in the property is irrelevant, and there is no additional notice requirement other than those that already exist under New Jersey law.


Executive Order No. 128, signed on April 24, 2020, permits tenants to apply their security deposit, plus the interest accumulated thereon, to rent due or to become due from the tenant up to two months after the Public Health Emergency established by Executive Order No. 103 (https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-103.pdf). The tenant has no obligation to repay the security deposit to the landlord unless the lease is extended or renewed, in which case the tenant must replenish the security deposit within six months after the Public Health Emergency established by Executive Order No. 103 (https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-103.pdf) ends, or on the date the lease is extended or renewed, whichever is later. Only tenants subject to the protection of N.J.S.A. 46:8-19 et seq., details of which can be found on the Security Deposits tab of this website, are entitled to this relief.


To read the full post-pandemic plan approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, visit https://njcourts.gov/notices/2020/n200610b.pdf?c=g7A