In our two most recent articles, we discussed two ways in which tenants can delay or stop an eviction from taking place. We discussed applications to set aside verdicts due to fraud or other good cause. We also discussed applications for Hardship Stays, to allow the tenant additional time to move out, provided that the tenant can post all of the rent that is due and owing and stay current on the rent obligations during the Hardship Stay. For the reasons discussed in those articles, both of those applications are seldom granted. In a case where the tenant’s application is not granted, the Court may still consider whether the tenant is eligible for an Order for Orderly Removal, granting the tenant a few extra days to remain in the premises.
In this month’s article, we will discuss the application for Orderly Removal. Pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 6:6-6(b), the tenant facing a lockout can apply to the Court for an extra seven days to remain in the premises without the payment of any money.
Applications for Orderly Removal are generally filed ex parte (i.e.; without the Landlord being present) and the Court generally does not schedule a return date. In some Counties, the Judge hearing the application will make the determination at the time of the application and then notify the Landlord of his decision. In other Counties, the Judge or the Judge’s law clerk will contact the Landlord or Landlord’s attorney at the time of the application to determine whether the Landlord has any position or objection to the request. In Ocean County, the Court staff will send a fax to the Landlord’s attorney for a written objection before the Judge will rule on the application. Regardless of how the Court handles the application, the only issue before the Court will be whether the tenant should get additional time to vacate.
Tenants making these applications often request a period of a few weeks or months, but with very few exceptions, the tenant will generally only get an additional week before the lockout. Additionally, while the Court Rule does not specifically preclude a tenant from making multiple applications for Orderly Removal, it is generally understood that the tenant is not entitled to more than one application. In rare instances, we have seen a Judge grant a second application for Orderly Removal, effectively staying a lockout for two full weeks, but that generally does not occur.
Objections to Orderly Removal
As a practical matter, it generally does not make sense to oppose an application for Orderly Removal, since these applications are almost always granted, whether an objection is raised or not. Only in unique and extreme circumstances will the tenant’s application for Orderly Removal be denied in most Courts. In cases where an Orderly Removal has already been granted, a landlord may move to have the Orderly Removal set aside by filing a written objection with the Court. The Court may review the objection, and if good cause is found, the Court may set aside the Orderly Removal upon 2 days notice to the tenant. This rule, however, is more of a “theoretical” concept, since we have yet to hear about any Orderly Removals being vacated using this Rule.
Historically, the Court Rule was intended to work for the benefit of both the Landlord and the Tenant by including a waiver of the tenant’s right to claim any abandoned property after the expiration of the Orderly Removal. Unfortunately, the waiver of a tenant’s rights under the Abandoned Property Act did not find its way into the final draft of the Court Rule, and is therefore discretionary upon the individual Judge entering the Order, whether he or she wants to include that statement in his or her standard form for Orderly Removal.
Wait 10 Days!
Finally, we note that, similar to the request for a Hardship Stay, the tenant may elect to request an Orderly Removal at any time from the date when the Warrant of Removal is served to ten calendar days after the lockout! Accordingly, Landlords are cautioned not to re-rent the premises to a new tenant until the expiration of ten days after the lockout. For more information, please feel free to contact our office.