New Jersey Ejectment Actions: Removing the Unauthorized Occupant

House 5.jpgFor the past several years, our office has been reporting on various aspects of New Jersey Landlord Tenant Law. We have noted that the New Jersey eviction process is a generally fast and simple procedure that allows landlords to evict tenants in as little as four to six weeks. There are no Counterclaims allowed by the Defendant (Tenant) and there is no requirement that the parties exchange any discovery prior to trial.

While landlords and property owners generally appreciate the efficient manner in which Landlord Tenant Court reaches and disposes of housing related disputes, some property owners simply may not qualify to proceed in that Court. The most important characteristic shared by all parties in Landlord Tenant Court is that there is some type of “Landlord-Tenant relationship.” In all cases, one party must be under either a lease or an obligation to pay the other party rent. In some cases, however, that relationship simply does not exist. In those cases, the property owner must proceed under an action known as an “ejectment.” Ejectment actions almost always take longer to adjudicate than tenancy actions, and require substantially more paperwork on the part of the parties. From our office’s experience, the most common scenarios in which an ejectment may occur are the removal of a former owner from a house following a foreclosure, and removal of a family member from a house that was supposed to have been used for a temporary time period. While the scope of landlord tenant actions has been expanded to include employees who receive housing in exchange for employment, the matter of Vasquez v. Glassboro Service Association, Et. Al., 83 N.J. 86 (1980) set forth that migrant farm workers did not qualify as employees and therefore, an ejectment action needed to be filed in order to remove them from farm housing.

In one recent matter our office handled, our client’s parents had deeded him their house in exchange for an interest in a gas station that he owned. After the property was deeded to our client, he decided to move in, only to find that his sister had been living in that house without his consent, and without paying him any compensation. Our office filed an ejectment complaint with the Superior Court. Ultimately, our client’s parents agreed to deed him a different house, rather than removing their daughter from the house that she had been living in. If your property has an unauthorized occupant residing in it, please contact our office for an initial consultation.