If you’re a landlord, you already know that tenants can be evicted for more than nonpayment of rent. All things considered, you may have some idea how the process works. You and your attorney show up in landlord-tenant court and plead your case. However, let’s put that to the side for the time being. What happens if you need to remove a non-tenant, an occupant, “a squatter” from your property? What exactly is an ejectment action?
For starters, a complaint to remove an unauthorized occupant from your premises does not get filed in landlord-tenant court. Unless an actual tenancy relationship exists, the property owner must file an ejectment action in the Special Civil Part of Superior Court.
The difference between eviction and ejectment might seem confusing. Consider this example. You buy a bank owned property which was previously purchased through a foreclosure sale. Seller represents there are no tenants at the property. You discover the previous property owners who were foreclosed upon (didn’t pay their mortgage) are still living at the property and they are not leaving without court intervention. An attorney with experience in ejectment proceedings will need to guide you through the process of removing these non-tenants.
Landlords aren’t the only ones who may experience problems that warrant ejectment of someone from their property. As weather temperatures drop, squatters may decide to take up shelter wherever they can find it. This could mean taking up residence in an abandoned house or even a garage. The bottom line is that squatters take over property without the owner’s permission.
Truth be told, not all unauthorized occupants represent strangers. In some cases, ejectment actions are necessary to remove family members or friends that refuse to leave. Also, prior owners who refuse to vacate property may be removed by an ejectment action.
NJ Ejectment Actions
The New Jersey law regarding real property possessory actions starts at NJSA 2A:35-1. Once again, landlords regain possession of their premises from tenants through the eviction process. Removal of unauthorized occupants requires pursuit of an ejectment action.
Your attorney presents the court with legal documentation regarding the need to remove the squatter or non-tenant from your property. If the judge approves the initial filing, the next step requires serving the unauthorized occupant with the paperwork. This includes notification of the hearing date.
In many cases, only the property owner or landlord appears in court. The judge may still require testimony despite the absence of the other party.
In the meantime, some unauthorized occupants contest ejectment proceedings. That said, the ultimate goal focuses on applying for a Writ of Possession and returning you the rightful uninterrupted use of your property. Once the court orders the removal, the Sheriff’s Department assumes responsibility for it.
Contact the Law Offices of Lawrence Centanni for questions relating to ejectment actions. We will work with you to gain lawful possession of your property.