How to evict a tenat who rarely paid rent?

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How to evict a tenat who rarely paid rent?

We allowed a friend of a friend to stay in a studio apartment and he did pay a nominal amount but never on any set schedule. He has allowed criminals/drug activity to go on in his area. We have asked him to stop but no longer want him there. There are children in the other unit (our gandchildren). He has also stopped paying anything at all. How do we get him out? Can we change locks and can we inspect the property with notice?

Asked on June 14, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot change the locks--if you do so, that is an illegal eviction and you will be liable to him. All evictions must be through the courts.

If he's been paying rent then he is a tenant. If there is no written agreement, he is most  likely  a month to month tenant of yours (subletting from you) pursuant to an oral (sometimes called verbal) lease. First thing to try to is evicting him for nonpayment of rent--you don't need to provide prior notice, but can immediately file a summons and complaint in the Tenancy Division of the Special Civil Part of the county Superior Court. Note though that if he comes up with the money prior you to you getting a judgment of possessio against him (that is, before the end of the day of the trial), he can stay. You can and should seek to evict based on this failure to pay ALL the rent he's failed to pay--the larger the number, the less likely it is that he can come up with it.

If the above fails, then since he's a month to month tenant, you should be able to give him 30 day's notice terminating his tenancy, but let a landlord-tenant attorney help you--NJ makes it difficult to evict someone other than for a plain and obvious failure to pay rent.


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