The Essex County Historic Courthouse in Newark (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)
On the heels of major changes to the state’s eviction moratorium, eviction cases in New Jersey courts will be adjourned while applications for rental assistance are processed.
The New Jersey Judiciary said Thursday the adjudications will allow time for parties to resolve the cases using rental relief funds, if possible.
In order for the eviction filings to be adjourned for 60 days, the parties must provide documents showing a submitted application for rental assistance, the courts said.
During a Thursday webinar, court officials said judges can extend adjournments beyond 60 days if both parties agree. They also noted the adjournment applies for trials that begin Sept. 1.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed the new state eviction moratorium into law Wednesday, ending a previous eviction freeze for some families, depending on their income.
For families making between 80% to 120% of the area median income, the eviction moratorium will end Aug. 31, and households with an annual income of below 80% will be protected until Dec. 31.
Households with an income over 120% of the area median income can be evicted beginning Thursday — but landlord-tenant trials don’t begin until Sept. 1.
And for tenants facing evictions for other reasons, like disorderly conduct or assaulting neighbors, proceedings can resume immediately.
In the meantime, the courts are holding settlement conferences between landlords and tenants to try to resolve rental arrearages without a trial.
Tenants were previously protected under an executive order enacted in March 2020, stopping tenants from being locked out of their homes through Jan. 1, 2022. The executive order was amended Wednesday to reflect the new law.
Still, more than 60,000 evictions have been filed in the courts since March 2020.
Alongside New Jersey’s eviction moratorium, a federal moratorium protects renters who are in counties with “high” or “substantial” rates of coronavirus cases. Nearly every county in the Garden State is covered.
Tenants can apply for rental assistance through the Department of Community Affair’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program Phase II. As of July, the state had distributed $113.9 million of the $353 million set aside for struggling renters.
Applicants are chosen for the lottery every day, which a DCA spokeswoman said is now occurring daily.
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