How To Pursue Evicting a Commercial Tenant in New Jersey… Properly

April 4, 2013

Eviction Notice Generally, landlords prefer almost any outcome over an eviction. Sometimes, a landlord may even alter the terms of the lease to keep that tenant in the property. However, evictions are a fact of life. Landlords should be aware, however, that an eviction involves specific legal requirements and compliance with legal procedures.

Under New Jersey law, several permissible bases exist for evicting a commercial tenant, including: a tenant who holds over after the end of a lease term expires, a tenant who fails to pay their rent obligations, tenants who willfully destroy the property, or violates or breaches terms the parties agreed to in writing. The basis most commonly triggering evictions is, of course, failure to pay rent.

To evict a commercial tenant, the landlord must file what’s known as a summary dispossession action. The landlord must file the petition to open such a case in the Landlord/Tenant Court, a branch of the Special Civil Part of the Superior Court, for the county in which the rental property sits. The petition must state several central facts, including: (1) the existence of a lease between the parties, (2) the address of the rental property, and (3) a detailed calculation of the total arrearage the tenant owes, including rent, common area maintenance charges, late fees and any attorneys’ fees.

If the tenant does not file an answer in the case, the court will issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord and award possession to the landlord, pending the landlord’s filing a certification document stating the amount of rent due. If the tenant does respond, then the court generally sets the matter for mediation and, if that fails, then trial. Landlords that are entities must hire a New Jersey attorney to represent them at the trial. (The same restriction exists for entity tenants, as well.) Assuming the tenant has no valid defense for not paying the rent owed, the court will likely award possession of the premises to the landlord and will then determine the amount of rent due.

Even after a court judgment of eviction awarding possession to the landlord, the matter may not be over. A tenant retains the right to “redeem,” which they can accomplish by paying the amount of rent owed (as determined by the court or by the certification filed in default judgments). If the tenant timely redeems, then it may remain in the premises. A tenant also has a legal right to appeal a judgment of dispossession.

After securing a judgment, a landlord must next obtain a warrant of removal, which must be applied for within 30 days of the court’s issuance of the judgment. A constable then executes the warrant and returns the property to the landlord’s possession.

Evictions, even uncontested ones, require proper adherence to the law and the rules of court to achieve a successful outcome. To obtain the best quality advice and representation in your commercial eviction matter, contact the real estate attorneys at Samuel C. Berger, P.C. Our New Jersey real estate attorneys can help you pursue, or defend, your eviction case and safeguard your rights to the fullest extent of the law. Contact us online or call (201) 587-1500 or (212) 380-8117.

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