As a landlord, you are beyond frustrated. Your tenant has failed to pay the rent in months. Excuse after excuse. You have a mortgage on the property and are running low on funds. Finally, you go to court and the judge executes an eviction order.
You’re ready to paint the apartment and prepare it for someone who will pay you the rent. Meanwhile, the deadbeat tenant better come up with the money he owes you.
Wait. One second. It’s understandable that you’re excited. However, you need to know a little bit more about the eviction process. Truth be told, you’ll need to be a little more patient.
After a day in Landlord/Tenant court, you may be ready to proceed. Nevertheless, you have to understand what the law says is the right thing to do after the judge has ordered the eviction.
Proceeding on an Eviction Court Order
To begin with, you need to take a look at the document conversationally referenced as the eviction order. Its formal title is a Judgment for Possession. Notably, this particular judgment is only to achieve removal of the tenant. No, that doesn’t mean that you can forcefully take over possession of your property.
In fact, you have just completed the first part of the eviction saga. You will also note that the order says nothing about collecting the back rent. Candidly, if you were hoping the tenant’s wages would be garnished to pay you, you’ll be sadly disappointed.
First thing to know about the Judgment of Possession. You still have more steps. For starters, you will need a Warrant for Removal. Let’s take a look at how that works.
Warrant for Removal
The law regarding the Judgment for Possession and the Warrant for Removal are both found at NJSA 2A:18-57. Meanwhile, the Warrant for Removal cannot be issued until three days after the Judgment for Possession is executed by the judge. Those three days may be extended if the order was signed on a Friday or before a holiday. In reality, it’s because weekends and holidays don’t count when it comes to determining when to apply for the Warrant for Removal.
In most cases, landlords leave procurement of the Warrant for Removal to their attorney. This document must be signed by the court. It gives a court officer the authority to serve the notice on your tenant. If your tenant tries to avoid service, the notice will be posted on the door.
Tenants have limited choices once they have been served with the Warrant for Removal. Obviously, one alternative is to leave the premises. Otherwise, they may attempt to content the Warrant. Unfortunately, a select few will actually wait for the court officer to remove them from the premises.
Removal involves padlocking the door so that the tenants cannot enter. This may mean an additional headache as you are not authorized to arbitrarily dispose of or sell their possessions. To learn more about what to do about abandoned property, you should read this article.
Without question, the removal process could take time. The tenant could claim a hardship. Perhaps there is proof that the tenant is terminally ill. These are all issues you should consult with your attorney about when it looks like the tenant intends to remain.
Can You Ever Collect Back Rent?
Although it would seem that the eviction process would include collection of back rent, it does not. In some cases, landlords decide to write off the bad debt. However, in others, it may seem foolish not to collect on what is rightfully yours according to a lease agreement.
First, there is the issue of the security deposit. It may be applied to back rent provided that the tenant is notified that it will be used for that purpose. Collection of additional back rent requires an additional court matter. The goal is to secure a monetary judgment with hopes that the tenant will eventually be forced into paying. The judgment will be docketed and appear on the tenant’s credit report.
Have questions about the eviction process? Contact the Law Offices of Lawrence M. Centanni to schedule an appointment.