A New Jersey eviction notice is a written notice produced by the landlord that informs the tenant that they’ve violated their rental agreement. It gives them a certain amount of time, based on the type of violation, to correct the problem or vacate the property. Eviction notices are better known as a notice to quit. Regardless of the reason why the eviction notice is issued, it must comply with the state’s landlord-tenant laws.
An eviction lawsuit may not be filed against the tenant without the landlord or their agent first serving an eviction notice. The only exception is for non-payment of rent. Unless the landlord has a pattern of accepting late rent, there is no legal obligation to serve the tenant with an eviction notice.
Service of an eviction notice must be completed by serving the tenant in person or by sending the notice via certified mail with a return receipt requested. The landlord may also serve someone who is a member of the household provided that they are at least 14 years of age.
To write a New Jersey eviction notice, you should include the following components:
Notice to Quit for Non-Payment of Rent
The landlord only has a legal obligation to serve a notice to quit for non-payment of rent if they have accepted late rent in the past according to § 2A:18-61.2. If so, then they must give the tenant 30 days to pay the past due rent. If the landlord does create this notice, it should include the full amount of rent that is past due, the date by which the past due amount must be paid, how it may be paid, and where it may be paid.
30-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance
For other lease violations that don’t qualify as non-payment of rent, the landlord must give 30 days notice to comply with the lease. This notice should detail how the lease was violated and the date by which the tenant should correct the violation or vacate the property. This notice is regulated by § 2A:18-61.2(b).
3-Day Notice to Quit for Disorderly Conduct
Disorderly conduct is defined as the tenant destroying the peace and quiet of other tenants or guests on the rental property or that belonging to the neighbors. The notice does not give the tenant the option to correct the issue. It tells them that they must vacate the property within three days. This notice should explain the reason why it is being issued and list the date by which the tenant must return the property to the possession of the landlord. It is governed by § 2A:18-53(c).
30-Day Notice to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy
A 30-day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy isn’t the exact same as an eviction notice. It can be issued by either the landlord or the tenant. It informs the recipient that the property will be vacated in 30 days and that the month-to-month tenancy is over. The tenant doesn’t have to violate the lease to receive this notice. This notice should give the date by which the property should be vacated. It is regulated by § 2A:18-56.
With the exception of non-payment of rent, the landlord must use an eviction notice before they can file a lawsuit against the tenant. If the landlord has a history of accepting late rent, then they must give the tenant 30 days’ notice to pay the past due rent or vacate the property. Unless and until the landlord receives an order from the court, they may not remove the belongings of the tenant, shut off the utilities to the property, or change the locks. Without the court order, these actions are illegal.
The landlord may not evict the tenant because the tenant reports the property or the landlord to the proper housing authorities because of code violations or because the property is uninhabitable. Additionally, the landlord may not decide to evict someone because of their race, color, religious beliefs, national origin, gender, disability, or family status (including pregnancy and minor children).
Receiving an eviction notice marks the beginning of the legal eviction process. A landlord must legally serve you (or have you legally served) with an eviction notice in lease violation situations that don’t qualify as non-payment of rent. Without doing so, the landlord may not sue you in court to have you removed from the property. However, the exception is non-payment of rent. Landlords may automatically begin the eviction process if they do not have a history of accepting late rent. If they do have a history of accepting late rent, then they are legally obligated to serve an eviction notice upon you that gives you 30 days to pay or vacate the property.
As a tenant, you have rights even during the eviction process. You have the right to proper notice as explained above. You also have the right to live in a rental unit that is considered habitable and safe. You cannot be evicted because you report the landlord or the property to the housing authority for code violations or unsafe living conditions. You also cannot be legally evicted for your skin color, your race, your religion, your country of origin, your gender, your disability, or your family status. A landlord may not remove your belongings, change the locks, or shut off the utilities until the landlord gets a court order. If you’re subjected to an illegal eviction, you may have the legal right to sue the landlord for financial damages.
If you receive a New Jersey eviction notice, read it carefully. It has important information such as why it was created and how long you have to fix the problem or vacate the property. You can contact the landlord and have a calm conversation. If you believe that you may be the victim of an illegal eviction, contact a landlord-tenant lawyer. They can help you determine whether you have a valid claim against the landlord. They can also advise you of your legal rights. You can contact Rutgers School of Law in Camden, Rutgers School of Law in Newark, or Seton Hall University School of Law. They may have an active legal clinic program that can provide you with affordable legal help with your eviction. You can also contact a New Jersey legal aid office. If you meet their income guidelines, you could be provided with free or low-cost help. They also have several resources that anyone who is a renter in New Jersey can take advantage of on their own.
New Jersey landlords need to understand some specific information. First, the eviction notice is the beginning action that you must take before you can sue the tenant. You cannot change the locks, shut off the utilities, or remove the tenant’s belongings unless you get a court order. There is an exception to the legal requirement of sending out an eviction notice: non-payment of rent provided that you do not have a history of accepting late payments. If you do accept late payments, you must provide an eviction notice that gives the tenant 30 days to pay the rent or vacate the property.
Also, landlords may not evict the tenant for discriminatory reasons as discussed under Legal Considerations. Tenants may not be evicted because they report uninhabitable conditions or code violations on the property, either.
To learn more about your rights and obligations as a landlord or to learn more about the eviction process, schedule a consultation with a landlord-tenant attorney in the county where the rental property is located.