Notice to Quit and Eviction: A Brief Guide for Landlords and Tenants

Submitted by New Jersey Civil Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

Summit Plaza Associatates v. Contreras is a landlord-tenant dispute decided on November 17th by the Appellate Division. The underlying facts of the case are that neighbors of the tenant/defendant claimed they were making excessive noise at all hours of the night. After a ten-day notice to cease was issued by the plaintiff to the tenants, a thirty-day notice to quit was served requesting they quit making noise late at night or in the early morning. At trial the defendant signed a stipulation which they allegedly breached. The appeal focuses on the stipulation rather than the notice to stop. But this blog will focus on what is required in a notice to stop and is useful for both landlords and tenants to understand.

A Notice to Quit is a requirement for a good cause (good reason) eviction by a landlord with the only exception being when the tenant fails to pay rent. The Notice to Cease is a warning whereas the Notice to Quit is more akin to a final warning before court proceedings and eviction begin. Different timings exist depending on the reason the Notice to Quit is served. For property damage and disorderly conduct a Notice to Quit must only be served at least three days before filing a suit for eviction, whereas in the case of violation of a landlord’s rules which may be more subjective or complicated, a Notice to Quit is required at least a month before filing a suit for eviction and this must be done “on or before” the start of a new month. In public housing evictions some federal regulations apply. For example, if drugs are sold out of the premises eviction is authorized regardless of whether the tenant knew the conduct was occurring. In the case of a reasonable change to the terms of the lease (if the tenant disagrees) a Notice to Stop must be filed at least one month before eviction.

As previously mentioned, a Notice to Quit is not typically required in instances of failure to pay rent but the exception to this is failure to pay a rent increase. In this case the Notice to Quit again requires a month. In the case of a health/safety violation or a delisting of the property for rent (for example for redevelopment) at least three months is required and relocation assistance must be provided to the tenant. If the landlord wants to completely end residential use of the property than 18 months is required. These longer timeframes show the sliding scale of notice required depending on whether the cause results from the tenant’s conduct or the landlord’s conduct.

Tenants and landlords often have varying rights when it comes to evictions depending on the reason for eviction. Tenants especially underestimate their rights against a landlord but many landlords are equally ignorant about the regulations that govern evictions. For a more in-depth explanation visit http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/codes/publications/pdf_lti/grnds_for_evicti_bulltin.pdf.

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