The start of the pandemic proved financially difficult for many people. As more people became unable to work, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 106 in order to protect tenants from being removed. This order was signed into place to ensure that people would not be evicted and locked out of their homes due to COVID-19 related hardships. Now that case numbers are declining in the state of New Jersey, the eviction moratorium is also coming to an end.
Executive Order 106 has been in place since March 19, 2020. This law did not stop filings, nor stall rent or mortgage payments, but it did ensure that no tenant could be removed or locked out of their home. On August 4, 2021, Executive Order 249 was signed into place to wind down the eviction moratorium.
The new law states that residents with a median income above 80% of their county can be evicted starting August 31, 2021. Residents with an income below 80% of their county are protected from eviction until December 31, 2021.
Executive Order 249 Protections
This new law has been put into place to provide more assistance to certain tenants and landlords going through economic hardships as a result of the pandemic. This distribution of rental assistance comes from the American Rescue plan. Unfortunately, certain households no longer qualify for the protection of Executive Order 106.
- Households with a median income that falls below 120% of their county’s area median income (AMI) qualify for protection against eviction due to nonpayment or late payment of rent, or failure to accept rent increase from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021.
- Households with a median income that falls below 80% of their county’s area median income (AMI) qualify for protection against eviction due to nonpayment or late payment of rent, or failure to accept rent increase from March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021.
- Those who qualify for unemployment or have proof of significant financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19.
- Removals resulting from foreclosure proceedings shall expire on November 15, 2021.
NOT protected under Executive Order 249 are:
- Evictions for any reason other than failure to pay rent, late payments on rent, or failure to accept increased rent.
- Households with a median income that does not fall below 80% of the area in which they reside.
It is important to note that eviction protections do not dismiss rent that is owed. Landlords can still sue and obtain a monetary judgement for rent that is owed between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021.
Although the utility shut-off moratorium ended on July 1, 2021 some households are still protected. Gas, electric, and water shut offs have been given a grace period until December 31, 2021. New Jersey also has an annual Winter Termination Program which protects low-income households and seniors from utility shut-offs during the winter months. This program will continue through March 15, 2022.
How to Know if You Qualify
In order to qualify for protection from eviction you must fill out the Income Self-Certification form, which is available at https://covid19.nj.gov/renter
With this form you can check your eligibility based on income, as well as apply to have an eviction case dismissed. Tenants must prove that they suffered hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were unable to pay rent/paid rent late because of this.
If you have an eviction case, the best course of action would be to consult an accredited attorney about the steps to take in order to protect your household.
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