A landlord will often undertake extensive measures to resolve a conflict or other problems a tenant may be experiencing or creating to avoid the time and cost of legal action. However in some instances, legal action against a tenant is the only option and the courts will be an essential element in enforcing the landlord’s rights. However, many landlords are hesitant to take on legal action because they have heard horror stories about the legal or process or they believe that the legal process will not protect their rights. It is true that landlords can place themselves in difficult situations if they file lawsuits without understanding the legal process, but these situations were created by the landlord’s lack of legal knowledge and guidance. Landlords who play by the rules and who can provide sufficient evidence to prove their claims will typically find relief from the courts and an important asset for their business.
The Jayson Law group can work with you or your company to ensure that you are fully prepared for any claims brought on behalf of your rental company. We work dedicated to protecting the rights of landlords throughout New Jersey.
What should a landlord expect when he or she first arrives at court?
When you first arrive at the courts, while processes procedures may differ from location to location, you will generally be asked to sign-in or otherwise make it known that the party and its representation are present. After checking in, it is typical to be approached by an arbitrator or mediator. The state of New Jersey, like many other jurisdictions, has a public policy which encourages parties to come together and to work out their differences early in the litigation process.
It is important to note that while your mediator or arbitrator is not a judge, they do have significant power to influence the direction of your case. Therefore, all mediation or arbitration sessions should always be approached with the good faith and respect that the process deserves. While not every matter can be settled through this process, a significant number of matters can. If settlement can be reached, the mediator or a Special Civil Part clerk can provide a settlement form to the parties. If the tenant is unrepresented, appearing pro se, and the property involved in residential property, a judge must review and approve the settlement. If the matter cannot be settled, it will proceed to trial.
What will happen in a landlord-tenant court proceeding?
While the exact subject matter and proceedings are dependent on the action filed by the landlord or tenant, there are some general steps and procedures that will remain the same regardless. That is, both the landlord and tenant will have an equal opportunity to present their case and prove that they are correct. One way this can be accomplished is by explaining the situation chronologically while presenting documentary evidence and witnesses to corroborate your view of events. Depending on the facts and circumstances0 other methods may prove more effective, but regardless of how the case is presented evidence can include lease agreements, canceled or dishonored checks, returned payments, photographs of damage to the apartment or commercial space, police reports, and any other admissible evidence that makes a fact more or less likely.
If the judge finds in favor of the tenant, the case will be dismissed. If the judge finds in favor of the landlord, judgment for possession will be granted. However receiving judgment for possession does not mean that the tenant must vacate immediately. Rather, it means that the landlord now has a right to file to have an officer from the Special Civil Part to go and remove the tenant from the premises.
One special note is for the case where the landlord’s complaint is due to the non-payment of rent. If the tenant offers to pay the full amount due plus all court costs on or before the hearing, the landlord is required to accept the rent and the case will be dismissed. If the landlord chooses not to accept the rent, it will be held in escrow with the Clerk of the Special Civil Part. In this situation, the tenant cannot be forced to move out.
The Jayson Law Group Provides Representation for Residential and Commercial Landlords
The Jayson Law Group is dedicated to providing high-quality, reliable legal representation for business owners and landlords. We can protect your residential or commercial rental business from legal claims or work to enforce your rights against problem tenants. To schedule a confidential initial consultation, call 908-768-3633 today or contact us online.