By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver and Attorney General Gurbir S. Greal announced on Tuesday that they’re introducing new measures to protect tenants from being evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attorney General Grewal has directed all law enforcement agencies in the state to help prevent evictions and lockouts as long as the state’s moratorium on evictions is active. Governor Phil Murphy introduced a moratorium on evictions due to missed payments in March 2020, and it was recently extended through June 30 by the state.
“The actions of landlords who have locked out tenants or cut their utilities during this global health emergency are not just illegal— they’re inhumane,” Attorney General Grewal said in a press release. “We have strong protections in place to prevent tenants from losing their homes through illegal evictions, but they work only if tenants know their rights and police know their responsibilities.”
Police officers are now required by the state to follow a four-step outline when they’re called to an illegal eviction: Determine the facts surrounding the eviction, issue warnings to those responsible for the illegal eviction, ensure any illegally-evicted tenants can get back into their property, and charge those responsible for the illegal evictions if their previous warning is ignored.
As the four-step outline states, it is now illegal for landlords to evict their tenants for missed payments as long as New Jersey’s moratorium on evictions is in place. Landlords who try to evict their tenants despite this can be charged with a felony.
Additionally, New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs has awarded more than $1,000,000 to the state’s nonprofit Housing and Community Development Network. This money will be used to formulate and utilize outreach strategy that makes tenants aware of their rights during the state’s moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs.
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