New Jersey Evictions----Evicting Tenants because Owner seeks to Personally Occupy Property
The New Jersey Anti-Eviction Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1-61.12 et seq., sets forth various reasons for which owners can evict residential tenants. One of those reasons is an owner's intention to personally occupy the property.
Eviction for Cause if Owner seeks to Personally Occupy property.An owner of a building three(3) units or less may tender notice to vacate to a residential tenant if:
1. Said Owner seeks to personally occupy the unit or has contracted to sell the unit to a Buyer who seeks to personally occupy unit. If a Buyer of the property seeks to occupy the unit, any contract of sale must include a clause calling for the unit to be vacant at closing. See N.J.S.A. 2A:61.1(l) (3).
The aforementioned statute requires owners to tender two(2) months notice to quit(vacate) premises
to the tenant before filing suit for eviction.
If there is a lease in effect, the tenant can argue that no eviction case can go forward until expiration of the lease term. See N.J. Truth in Renting Guide, tenth edition, page 32.
N.J.S.A. 2A: 18-61.6 Liability for Wrongful EvictionsOwners who fail to personally occupy the property can face penalties. If an Owner fails to occupy the said premises for at least six(6) months or if the tenant is told the property is being sold, but the owner arbitrarily fails to execute the contract of sale , but allows occupancy by another tenant, the owner can be held liable to the former tenant under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.6(a). If an owner purchases the property under contract requiring tenant to vacate, but fails to occupy the property for a least six(6) months, the owner can be held liable to the former tenant. N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.6(b).
Owners held liable for Wrongful Evictions can be compelled to pay the former tenant three(3) times the amount of any damages plus attorney's fees and costs.
Whether a Court finds wrongful eviction or awards damages, would, of course depend on the facts of a particular case.
This article is not offered as legal advice. Landlords and Tenants should consult with counsel before moving forward with a course of action.