COVID-19 Information for New Jersey
The purpose of this page is to provide apartment industry professionals with an overview of the issues affecting our industry with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. The page is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice. This resource is not intended to provide a mandatory standard of care for the industry.
State and Local Affiliates
Please remember to use your state or local apartment association as the primary resource for the most up-to-date information on your responsibilities. Find your local affiliate.
State Legal and Regulatory Information
We highly suggest you contact a local attorney before you decide to initiate an eviction action against a resident in the current environment as overlaying federal, state and county laws or restrictions on the judicial process may apply. This includes: issuing a notice to vacate, initiating any eviction-related action, or assessing fees or penalties on residents for nonpayment of rent or other lease violations. In addition to the below, you can access NAA's statutory information on late fees, eviction laws and other policy issues.
New Jersey is currently in Phase 2 of its reopening plans. Under Phase 2, non-essential businesses may resume operation per sanitation and health guidelines, individuals must wear face coverings while in public places, and indoor gatherings must be limited to no more than 25 people.
Face Mask Mandate
Governor Murphy required that all persons wear face covering in indoor and outdoor public spaces. This order remains in effect until rescinded.
State of Emergency
Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency on March 9, 2020.
Status: Eviction Cases & Enforcement Suspended
- Action: On July 28, 2020, Acting Administrative Director of the Courts Glenn Grant, J.A.D. released Directive #20-20. The Directive sets the requirements for the newly implemented landlord-tenant case management steps, procedures, and forms for: (1) service of complaints and pretrial settlement conferences; (2) CARES Act certification and compliance; and (3) Order to Show Cause process for landlord-tenant trials in limited circumstances. Lease violations listed on page 4 pursuant to the Anti Eviction Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1), and the Summary Dispossession Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:18- 53) are circumstances where a court may grant a trial in “the interest of justice.”
- CARES Act Certification: Requires certification of CARES Act compliance for all nonpayment of rent cases filed during the CARES Act moratorium (March 27, 2020 through July 24, 2020). The certification must be filed before any pretrial/settlement conferences or trials are scheduled.
- Action: On March 20, 2020, the Governor signed A-3859 into law, which explicitly provides authority to the Governor to issue an executive order declaring a moratorium on removing individuals from their homes pursuant to an eviction or foreclosure proceeding. The Governor then immediately signed Executive Order No. 106, which imposes such a moratorium.
- Duration: Expires two months after the end of the state of emergency.
- Scope: While eviction and foreclosure proceedings may be initiated or continued during the time this order is in effect, enforcement of all judgments for possession, warrants of removal, and writs of possession shall be stayed, unless the court determines on its own motion or motion of the parties that enforcement is necessary in the interest of justice. The order does not affect any schedule of rent that is due. Sheriffs, court officers, and their agents shall refrain from acting to remove individuals from residential properties through the eviction or foreclosure processes during the time the order is in effect, unless the court determines on its own motion or motion of the parties that enforcement is necessary in the interest of justice.
- COVID-19 Related Impact Requirement: No.
- Residents Responsible for Rent: Yes.
Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance
The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CVERAP) will provide temporary rental assistance to low- and moderate-income households that have had a substantial reduction in income or became unemployed due the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applicants may be eligible for a maximum of up to six months of emergency rental assistance. The assistance will be capped at DCA’s fair market rent standard or the total of the rent, whichever is lesser. All participants will be reviewed at the three-month interval to see if they are still in need of assistance. Persons applying must meet all applicable CVERAP income and eligibility requirements. You must be eighteen (18) years of age or older to apply or be an emancipated minor. Only one (1) pre-application per household will be accepted. All participants will be selected through an online lottery process.
Anyone selected for the program must meet the following requirements:
- Have a gross, annual household income that is at or below the maximum income limits for the county where they are residing;
- Be a New Jersey resident and rent a unit in New Jersey;
- Rent must be current as of March 2020; this program will not assist with arrears;
- Have a substantial reduction in income or are currently receiving unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Have a lack of assets and savings to pay rent;
- Will pay a minimum of 30 percent of their income towards the rent; and
- Anyone currently receiving a subsidy from another rental assistance program or living in Public Housing is ineligible.
Additionally, New Jersey created the Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program, utilizing $25 million from the state’s coronavirus relief fund to provide assistance to housing providers who own properties that have at least three but no more than 10 total housing units. Property owners who receive assistance through the program will be required to pass along the benefits to their residents by forgiving outstanding rental payments, as well as any late fees that accumulated between the months of April and July. In order to be eligible, housing providers properties cannot be seasonal or vacation rentals; must have current fire inspection certificates; and must have at least one non-vacant rental unit impacted by COVID-19 and have low- to moderate-income rent levels or rent based on up to 80 percent of the median area income.
For those businesses with an immediate financial need, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Gov. Phil Murphy’s request for a disaster designation, opening up access to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to New Jersey businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for small businesses and private non-profits. These loans provide vital economic support to help overcome the loss of revenue caused by COVID-19.
Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is up to 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere. The interest rate for non-profits is up to 2.75%.
Loan terms are up to a maximum of 30 years. SBA will determine an appropriate payment based on the financial condition of the borrower, which also will determine the loan term.
Details regarding the SBA loan program can be found online at: https://faq.business.nj.gov/en/articles/3789809.
On April 16, 2020, Governor Murphy announced the State’s Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency unanimously voted to suspend rent increases at all eligible properties within the Agency’s portfolio, which includes 36,000 rental units across the state. The suspension will last until the termination of Executive Order 103, the Governors emergency declaration in response to COVID-19.
Under New Jersey Code, § 56.8.107, it is unlawful to sell goods or services at prices in excess of 10 percent of their rate during the time immediately prior to a state of emergency. While the statutory language does identify common goods for sale, it does not specify rental housing as a covered service.
NJAA notes New Jersey's price gouging law prohibits excessive price increases during a declared State of Emergency, or for 30 days after the termination of the emergency. This applies to rents as well as consumer goods.
Local Legal and Regulatory Information
Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance
The Camden County Freeholder Board is launching a new program aimed at supporting renters at risk of losing their homes or facing an eviction threat due to lost employment or income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Camden County CARES Rental Assistance Grant makes available up to six months of back rent (April 2020 through September 2020) for a maximum of $4,000. While residents will apply to take part in the program, payments will be made directly to housing providers.
- In order to qualify for the Camden County CARES Rental Assistance, applicants must meet the following eligibility and rules:
- Applicant cannot earn more than 50% of Average Area Median Income (AMI);
- Applicants will be required to provide proof of loss/reduction in employment or income;
- No duplication of funds will be permitted – apartments/housing provider which are funded under the State’s resident assistance program or Section 8 are not eligible;
- Housing provider must agree to waive late fees and penalties accrued from April 2020 to September 2020; and
- Lease must have begun prior to 3/1/2020.
Income limits are as follows:
- 1-person, $33,850
- 2-person, $38,650
- 3-person, $43,500
- 4-person, $48,300
- 5-person, $52,200
- 6-person, $56,050
Applications open Thursday, October 1, 2020, at 8 a.m. and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Assistance will be granted until all available funds are used.
On May 6, 2020, the City Council adopted Ord. 20-036 that imposes a rent freeze all units subject to rent control in the city.
- Scope: Applies to both properties covered under the city’s rent stabilization ordinance and rental properties with four units or less ordinarily exempt from the ordinance. Also prohibits collections of any late fees for late payments until August 1, 2020.
- Duration: Through August 1, 2020.
Mayor Ras Baraka announced a 60-day moratorium on the eviction of renters directly or indirectly affected by a quarantine order for non-payment of rent on March 15, 2020, meaning the individual has either been quarantined or is caring for people who are quarantined.
Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance
Newark created a $1 million Emergency Housing Assistance Fund to provide low-income residents up to $1,000 each to help pay rent or utilities. It’s a one-time assistance program unless the city can get more funds from the federal government. Applications for city residents will be available starting May 18 on the city’s website.
The rental assistance is being paid for with federal HOME grants and possibly some dollars from the city’s housing trust fund, which developers pay into in lieu of having low-income housing in their projects. The $1 million will not take away from other programs since the city received additional funds from the federal Housing and Urban Development Department when the coronavirus first reached New Jersey.
- Action: The Board of Commissioners and Mayor Nicholas Sacco have adopted an ordinance enacting a moratorium on rent increases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Scope: Prevents housing providers from increasing rent or other fees on rent controlled properties within the township.
- Duration: Through September 1, 2020, or the end of the State of Emergency declared by Gov. Phil Murphy, whichever is earlier.
Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance
On Thursday, May 14, 2020, the City of Perth Amboy approved the reallocation of U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development HOME Funds, totaling more than $200,000 to assist eligible residents with rental support. The Puerto Rican Association for Human Development (PRAHD) will be administering the funds and are now accepting rental assistance applications.
Eligible residents need to comply with the following criteria to receive assistance:
- Individual must be a current Perth Amboy resident; and
- Proof of citizenship is required; and
- Individual must be able to document a COVID related hardship (unemployment or letter from employer stating that they were laid off or had a reduction in hours due to COVID); and
- Landlord verification of back rent due is required.
- Action: On March 24, 2020, the City Council enacted a temporary suspension of evictions for qualifying renters through the expiration of the local emergency or the Governor’s State of Emergency order, whichever occurs last.
- Description: Residents must show an inability to pay rent due to COVID-19 economic hardship, defined as a substantial decrease in household or business income or out-of-pocket medical expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or government response. This hardship must be documented. Examples of such hardship include the following: 1) having or caring for a household or family member with COVID-19, 2) Work closures, layoffs, job loss, or a reduction in work hours, or 3) missing work due to a minor child’s school closure, compliance with government health authority orders, or other similarly caused reasons.
- Payment of Deferred Rent: Residents have 90 days from the end of the moratorium period to pay any back-due rent.
- Additional Commentary: Renters have 10 days after rent is due to notify their housing provider of an inability to pay due to COVID-19. Meeting the requirements of the ordinance provides an affirmative defense in an eviction proceeding. See the City’s Housing Resources webpage for more information.