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What if I can’t pay my rent? Can I still get evicted? Is there any rental relief?
Eviction Protection and Assistance
Your landlord cannot remove you from your home during this emergency. This moratorium on evictions will remain in place for up to two months after the end of this emergency.
On March 19, 2020, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order No. 106, which states that any lessee, tenant, homeowner or any other person shall not be removed from a residential property as the result of an eviction or foreclosure proceeding.
If you are at risk of eviction or are concerned about paying rent, use this online eviction moratorium information and question tool to see your rights and what assistance programs are available.
Counseling is free, available now, and can be provided remotely to help homeowners avoid potential foreclosure. At the same time, the counseling made available to renters will guide them on how to approach discussions with their landlords on dealing with their rent situation.
In addition to the resources above, you can file a special civil case as an emergent matter if you are a tenant and 1) you have been locked out by your landlord without a court order; 2) you have had your utilities turned off or otherwise not able to live in your rental home; or 3) you need access to your personal property and/or have had your personal property taken by your landlord.
Use the Illegal Lockout packet and email it to the emergent filing mailbox for your county (click here for a directory). Your local court ombudsman is available to answer any questions you might have.
You can also access free legal assistance through Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ). Learn more by visiting their site, or get advice, referrals, and information through their hotline by calling 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529) or by visiting www.LSNJLawHotline.org.
Additional Rent Relief Programs
Governor Murphy has announced an executive order allowing renters to direct their landlords to use their security deposits to pay their rents, whether that be to make up for a shortfall or to pay it in full.
Tenants will not be obligated to make any further security deposit relating to their current lease agreement but would still be responsible for any monies landlords expend that would have been reimbursable via the security deposit as outlined in the original contract (i.e. damage to the property).
However, should the tenant and landlord extend or renew their lease, then the tenant would be obligated to replenish the security deposit in full either six months following the end of the Public Health Emergency, or on the date on which the current lease agreement is extended or renewed, whichever is later. The order will be in place until 60 days after the public health emergency is terminated.
The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Financing Authority has authorized an emergency grant funding program for the owners of small rental apartment buildings to help cover their COVID-19-related rent losses from April through July. Landlords who receive assistance must pass along the benefits to their tenants by forgiving outstanding back rent and late fees accumulated during this period. Click here to learn more about the Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program.
In addition, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Financing Authority (NJHMFA) has suspended all rent increases at all eligible properties within its portfolio, which includes 36,000 rental units across the state for low-and-middle income New Jerseyans.
For more information, contact one of NJHMFA's housing counselors. Click here for a list of available counselors in your county or call 1-800-NJ-HOUSE.
Additional Housing Assistance
Visit www.nj.gov/dca/dcaid to see if you are eligible for any of the state's housing assistance programs. These include temporary assistance to households who are being evicted due to a short- term loss of income and temporary financial assistance to help pay for housing and case management and services to maintain housing. There are also programs available to help veterans, low-income families, the elderly, single-parents, and more.
Emergency Rent Relief
The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CVERAP) will provide temporary rental assistance to low- and moderate- income households that have had a substantial reduction in income or have become unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Applicants may be eligible for up to six months of emergency rental assistance. Participants must be New Jersey residents and renting a unit in New Jersey, must have income at or below program limits, and will pay a minimum of 30 percent of their income towards rent.
The application window has closed. The deadline to apply for the program was Friday, July 17 at 5 pm.
For more information, visit the NJ Department of Community Affairs' COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CVERAP) site and visit their Frequently Asked Questions for CVERAP. Pre-applications can be submitted at https://www.waitlistcheck.com/NJ559-2809,
Source: Executive Order No. 106; https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200328c.shtml; https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200319c.shtml; Executive Order No. 128; https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200424c.shtml; https://njcourts.gov/selfhelp/emergent.html?lang=eng