Maslow v. Donato. New Jersey Appellate Division September 29, 2017
Once a landlord and tenant file a consent order to settle an eviction with a payment plan and an agreement to vacate if the tenant fails to make the agreed payment plan what are the tenant’s defenses?
Submitted by New Jersey Civil Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In this case the landlord moves to evict the defendant with a Warrant of Removal. The defendant signed a consent order to pay back rent and repair of damages to the property. Three months after the consent order was signed the defendant defaulted it because they did not make payments. The landlord move to enforce the consent order by obtaining a warrant of removal. At that time the defendant argued by way of motion that the eviction was improper because the plaintiff did not obtain the appropriate certificate of occupancy from the municipal government.
The Appellate Division rule that this defense was not relevant and inappropriate because of the executed settlement agreement. The only argument here was whether the terms of the consent settlement were clear on their face and intelligible at the time the parties executed the settlement agreement. In this case because the terms were clear, the defendant had to pay the rents in an appropriate term, and the defendant understood those terms and failed to comply. The terms of the consent order were violated
When you execute a settlement agreement in order to avoid an eviction make sure the terms are clear and the defendant understands his or her responsibility. Failure to lay out the terms clearly could result in the trial court not issuing the appropriate Warrant of Removal. As a result, the Warrant of Removal filing a “terms of breach” affidavit should be submitted outlining the very clear basis for the violation of the consent order remaining in the property unless there is a default.
Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.