This issue has come up again with a client of mine, and there still appears to be a lot of confusion among some tenants about a landlord's rights to evict them.
So let me say this clearly, and without any hesitation or doubt. You landlord cannot simply come to your apartment, kick you out, or lock you out. There are no self-help evictions in New Jersey. The landlord must file for eviction through the court, at which point you get to appear before the judge. Even if you haven't paid your rent, if you can have all of your rent and other charges by the end of the court day, you will be allowed to stay on you apartment. Only a judge can give the landlord a Judgment for Possession. However, even upon receipt of that, the landlord cannot simply come to the property and throw you out. He must then forward a Warrant of Removal to the Sheriff , who then comes out, give you a notice that you must move out within a certain time period - usually three days.
After those three days expire, only the sheriff can come back and kick you out of the property. If a landlord tries this, make sure you call the police and document it.
Also, if the Sheriff locks you out, and you didn't have time to get your property out, make an inventory of it, or better yet, photograph or videotape it. The landlord cannot just throw your property out or take them for his own use. He must place the items in storage and then forward you a written notice to you stating that you have 30 days to pay the storage charges an to pick up your property, or the property will be deemed abandoned. So, you are not at the mercy of your landlord. You have rights as a tenant, and New Jersey is very tenant friendly. If your landlord has illegally locked you out, call the police and document everything. You may be able to recover substantial damages or penalties against your landlord.
All the Best!
RANDY C. REDDEN