Many residents in our County are being affected by the foreclosure crisis. With the large number of foreclosures in Essex County, we must all be concerned about the impact of foreclosures on our residents and neighborhoods. It is important that our residents are educated about their rights and available resources.
During the foreclosure process tenants are often forgotten because they are not the owners of the home where they live. However, tenants are greatly affected when their landlords are in foreclosure. Tenants need to understand what their rights are and most importantly, that in New Jersey foreclosure is NOT a reason for eviction.
Many landlords and foreclosing banks either do not know or choose not to follow the law. This brochure seeks to educate tenants on their rights and what steps they can take to insure that they are not illegally removed from their homes or leave voluntarily because they feel they have to. Tenants should be also be aware of current scams by individuals and companies.
The Anti-Eviction Act
Enacted in 1974, the Anti-Eviction Act protects residential tenants from losing their homes through no fault of their own. The Anti-Eviction Act applies whether or not the tenant has a written lease. The act means that tenants can only be removed from their homes for a specific reason listed in the law and then only on a written order from a judge.
In 1994, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the Anti-Eviction Act protects tenants even when the property where they live is in foreclosure or has been foreclosed.
Exceptions are limited. The Anti-Eviction Act DOES NOT apply to tenants of:
- Owner-occupied homes with no more than two rental units;
- Units set aside for developmentally disabled members of the owner’s immediate family; or
- Hotels, motels or guest houses.
CONTACT THE COURT AND SHERIFF
Tenants may be incorrectly named in court documents or Sheriff’s notices. If a court document or Sheriff’s notice, includes the tenant’s name, the tenant should contact the court and the Sheriff’s Office IMMEDIATELY.
THE FORECLOSURE PROCESS TAKES 9 TO 24 MONTHS FROM DEFAULT TO SHERIFF’S SALE.
WHAT TENANTS SHOULD DO:
- To find out if your landlord’s house is scheduled to be sold due to a foreclosure, contact the Sheriff’s Office at 973.621.2694
- Continue to pay your rent to your landlord until you have been notified in writing that a new owner has taken over the property.
- If you cannot locate your landlord or are not sure if the person collecting the rents is the legal owner – save your money!
- If your utilities are shut-off due to non-payment by your landlord, contact PSE&G at 1.800.436.7734
- If your water is shut-off, contact your local water department.
- If the bank has filed for foreclosure and there are code violations with the property, contact your local code violations office.
SCAMS and VIOLATIONS:
- “Cash for Keys” – Someone advising that you must move and offering to pay you if you do.
- Person posing as representative of landlord/new owner to collect rent.
- New owner trying to evict in order to sell the property empty.
- Realtor or property manager refusing to accept rent.
- Lawyers for foreclosing lender sending formal letters that threaten or imply eviction.
- Judges accepting paperwork from bank’s attorney and approving incorrect eviction orders.
To report one of these scams, contact:
Governor’s Office of Constituent Relations – 609.777.2500
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