Learning the ropes of New Jersey’s eviction process can be tricky, especially if you’re new to evictions in general. While eviction laws vary from state to state and county to county, the eviction process in New Jersey is straightforward:

  • Send a written notice
  • Fill out a complaint
  • Serve the tenant
  • Attend a trial
  • Final hearing

While a positive landlord-tenant relationship may help avoid an eviction scenario, sometimes evictions are unavoidable. Every eviction situation is unique and depends on the lease/rental agreement terms. No matter where you’re at in your rental journey, we hope this guide provides everything you need to know about evictions in New Jersey, including reasons to evict, how evictions work, and how to navigate them successfully. Let’s go.

How Evictions Work in New Jersey

First, let’s talk about what an eviction is. An eviction is a legal process that occurs when a landlord has reason to remove a tenant from the property before their lease is up (or after, in some cases). There are many reasons a landlord will file an eviction, such as violating the lease agreement, falling behind on rent, or other similar issues.

While the landlord technically owns the rental property, they cannot evict a tenant on their own. Landlords cannot force a tenant out of the property by changing the locks, turning off utilities, removing doors, etc. Instead, they must follow each step in the legal process to give the tenant time to act and respond.

Reasons a Landlord May Evict

According to New Jersey state law, a landlord can’t break a lease agreement without first giving the tenant a written notice. Here are the most common reasons for eviction and the required notices that must be provided:

  1. Non-payment of Rent: New Jersey allows a five business day grace period for rent due on the first of each month. At this time, rent is not considered late. If a tenant falls behind after the grace period, the landlord can then start eviction proceedings. If the landlord has accepted late rent payments in the past, they must then give the tenant a written 30-day notice to quit.
  2. Non-Renewal of a Lease: If a tenant’s lease expires without renewal, the tenant must move out at the end of the rental term. If they continue occupying the property without the landlord's consent, the landlord can initiate eviction and provide a 30-day notice.
  3. Lease Violation: If a tenant violates the lease agreement, such as damaging the rental, keeping unapproved pets, or smoking in a non-smoking area, the landlord must deliver a written notice that includes the actions violated in the lease. This serves as a 30-day notice.
  4. Month to Month: Tenant and landlord must provide a 30-day notice to the other party if they intend to end a month-to-month tenancy.
  5. Disorderly Conduct: If a tenant is charged with disorderly conduct or causes injury to the property, the landlord must give them a 3-day notice.
  6. Illegal Activity: Tenants who engage in criminal activity on or near the premises can be given a 3-day notice to quit. New Jersey law considers illegal activity such as substance abuse, theft, assault, trafficking, and illegal services. 

Providing tenants with a written eviction notice before the eviction process starts helps you avoid legal trouble and shows your compliance with the law.

Importance of a Lease/Rental Agreement

Often signed at the beginning of the lease, a lease or rental agreement outlines the terms and conditions the landlord and tenant must follow during the rental period. These terms help maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship while protecting both sides.

As mentioned, if a tenant violates the terms and conditions in the lease, the landlord has a case to begin eviction. The better the landlord can provide evidence of the violation, the smoother and easier the eviction process will be. It’s always a good idea to save texts, screenshots, photos, and your lease agreement in a secure, easily accessible place.

The Eviction Process in New Jersey

An eviction requires patience and diligence when following each step in the process. Here’s how to start an eviction process, step by step, in New Jersey.

1. Provide Notice to the Tenant

The first step in the eviction process is for the landlord to provide the tenant with a written notice. The type of notice provided will vary on the violation and tenancy length (as listed above). 

Providing notice gives the tenant time to fix the situation if necessary or find the means to move all their belongings out of the property before the expected due date. The written notice should provide the reason for eviction and how long the tenant has to fix the issue or vacate.

2. File a Complaint in Court

If the tenant fails to fix the situation within the timeframe, the landlord can then file a complaint in the related justice court after the days of notice are up. This process typically happens in a small claims court. The landlord must fill out a complaint form and pay a filing fee (typically $90 to $150, depending on the area.) This process takes two to three weeks. For more details on how to prepare for trial, visit New Jersey Courts.

What to File

  • Complaint: After notice has been provided, the landlord may pursue a formal eviction by filing a complaint with the court detailing the reasons for eviction.
  • Summons: This must be filed with a complaint and is served to the tenant once a hearing date is scheduled. A summons gives the tenant details of the complaint and provides a chance to present their side.

3. Tenant is Served

Next, the tenant is served the court documents after they’ve been filed, which typically include a Summons and Complaint. In New Jersey, the landlord cannot serve the tenant. A sheriff or authorized individual must serve these documents. The date and time of the eviction hearing will be included, so the paperwork must be delivered within five days of the hearing.

4. Attend the Court Hearing

Tenants in the state of New Jersey aren’t required to respond in order for a trial to be scheduled. However, the tenant should attend the hearing to present their case. At the hearing, a judge or magistrate will listen to each side and rely on any presented evidence to make a decision.

5. Eviction is Initiated

If the landlord wins the trial, the eviction process enters its final stage, which is where they issue a Judgment for Possession, allowing the clerk to issue a warrant for removal. 

6. Property is Repossessed

If the tenant is not out of the property within the required due date on the warrant for removal, the landlord must arrange for an authorized official to forcibly remove the tenant or lock them out of the property. The landlord cannot evict the tenant on their own, even after a Judgment for Possession.

Landlord and Tenant Rights

In order to remain fair and lawful, landlords and tenants should have a firm understanding of their rights. In New Jersey, there are landlord-tenant-specific laws that may alter the process compared to other states:

  • If a landlord has gone through the entire eviction process and a tenant amends their failure to pay rent, the tenant can in fact stay in the property for the remaining rental period. 
  • Only the appropriate officials can remove tenants by force.
  • In New Jersey, landlords are required to store any property the tenant leaves behind for 33 days. They can then charge the tenant for any storage fees associated with the items. 
  • The landlord must notify the tenant that they are storing their belongings and give them a written notice that they have 33 days to collect their items. If the tenant fails to retrieve the items, the landlord can dispose of the items however they prefer.
  • Both landlord and tenant are responsible for reading and understanding the lease/rental agreement before signing and maintaining the terms of the agreement.
  • Both landlord and tenant have the right to a fair trial. It’s always a good idea to keep careful notes of all rent payments, lease agreements, communications, etc., to help your case in the event of an eviction.
  • Tenants have the right to screen each tenant before they move in to help reduce the chances of missed payments or violations. (Tip: Run background and finance checks directly in TenantCloud.) 

If you find yourself in an eviction suit and would like specific law advice, contact an attorney specializing in New Jersey law.


Being a landlord in New Jersey comes with plenty of benefits and a handful of responsibilities. Keep good landlord-tenant communication and get to know the eviction laws in New Jersey, and you’ll be on the right track to a healthy, positive rental experience. And if you need to evict a tenant, you now have all the tools and resources you need to get started with confidence.

TenantCloud makes property management a breeze, helping you screen new tenants, communicate with renters, and keep important records all in one place. Get started with a free 45-day trial today.


Can I remove tenants myself in New Jersey?

No, landlords may face legal trouble if they attempt to force a tenant out of their property themselves. In New Jersey, tenants can sue their landlords for damages, which could be several thousands of dollars. For best results, follow the eviction process diligently and seek a lawyer for additional guidance.

What can landlords not do in an eviction in New Jersey?

Forcing a tenant out of the home is illegal, otherwise known as a self-help eviction. This includes cutting off the tenant’s access to power, water, heat, etc., or changing the locks so they can no longer enter the property. 

Do landlords need permission to enter in New Jersey?

No, it is not legal for landlords to enter a rental property without giving the tenant a proper notice. This is to protect the privacy of the tenant.

How long should landlords keep tenant belongings in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, landlords must store any property left behind by the tenant for up to 33 days. The landlord can charge the tenant for any storage fees associated with the items, and if the tenant does not pick up the items, the landlord can sell, donate, or dispose of the belongings.