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NOTICE: Amendment to Landlord/Tenant Summons and Complaint Forms; Interim Rule Relaxations; and Authorization to Apply for Order to Show Cause in an Emergency

The Full Notice is Available for your full review in the link below.

By Order dated July 14, 2020, the Supreme Court has authorized several steps to support the resumption of landlord/tenant case processing during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the New Jersey courts to transition from in-person to remote proceedings and to suspend landlord/tenant trial calendars as of March 16, 2020. Over the past four months, a significant number of landlord/tenant complaints have been docketed and have not yet been served on tenants. Additional cases that were pending as of March 16, 2020 have yet to be resolved. An influx of new landlord/tenant complaints also is anticipated when the relief provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES Act), 15 U.S.C. 9001 et seq., expires on July 25, 2020.

Current circumstances require the New Jersey courts to implement a cohesive strategy for landlord/tenant cases pending service and landlord/tenant cases pending trial. To that end, with input from tenant advocates and landlord representatives, the Court has authorized both permanent and interim measures to support the resumption of service of landlord/tenant complaints and the scheduling of settlement conferences while landlord/tenant trials remain suspended. Those measures are critical to facilitating the best possible outcomes for tens of thousands of New Jersey residents who face potential loss of housing in the coming months.

Amendments to Landlord/Tenant Summons and Complaint Forms

The Court in the July 14, 2020 Order adopted amendments to the Landlord/Tenant Summons Form (Appendix XI-B) and the Landlord/Tenant Complaint Form (Appendix XI-X). Effective immediately, both forms will include fields for party email addresses and to indicate whether the case involves a residential or commercial tenancy, which information will facilitate communications and differentiated case management. Based on the ongoing suspension of landlord/tenant trials, the Summons also is amended to remove the trial date field. The July 14, 2020 Order relaxes Rules 6:2-1 (“Form of Summons”) and 6:2-2 (“Process; Filing and Issuance”) as necessary for implementation of those amendments to the forms.

Interim Relaxation of Court Rules

The Court’s July 14, 2020 Order also temporarily relaxes Rule 1:13-7(d) (“Dismissal of Civil Cases for Lack of Prosecution”), so as to prevent the dismissal of landlord/tenant complaints that have not yet been served or scheduled for trial and Rule 1:40-7(b) (“Tenancy Actions”), so as to temporarily eliminate the requirement of sameday trials if landlord/tenant matters are not resolved via complementary dispute resolution. Rule 6:2-2(a) (“Delivery to Clerk; Issuance”), is relaxed so as (1) to require landlords who have filed a complaint between March 25, 2020 and July 24, 2020 seeking to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent to submit a CARES Act Compliance Certification in a form to be promulgated by the Administrative Director of the Courts; and (2) to eliminate the requirement for landlords that file electronically to submit an original and two copies of landlord/tenant pleadings.

Landlord/Tenant Trial Remain Suspended; Exception for Orders to Show Cause in Emergencies

The Court’s July 14, 2020 Order permits landlords to apply for issuance of an Order to Show Cause for eviction. The basis of that landlord/tenant action cannot be nonpayment of rent, except in the case of the death of the tenant. All applications for an Order to Show Cause will be reviewed and will proceed to a trial only if the court determines that an emergency exists. Examples of such emergency include but are not limited to, documented violence, criminal activity, or other health and safety concerns. The Court’s July 14, 2020 Order also acknowledges that an eviction may proceed in the “interest of justice” as provided by Executive Order 106 (issued March 19, 2020).

Questions on this notice should be directed to Assistant Director for Civil Practice Taironda E. Phoenix, Esq. at Taironda.Phoenix@njcourts.gov.

/s/ Hon. Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.

Acting Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: July 14, 2020

NOTICE- Amendment to Landlord:Tenant Summons and Complaint Forms – Interim Rule Relaxations – Authorization to Apply for Order to Show Cause in an Emergency.pdf