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New Jersey takes new steps to protect residents from eviction while courts slow down

More than one year after Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order enacting a moratorium to protect New Jersey tenants from being evicted, hundreds have been kicked out of their homes during the pandemic.

In early April, the state Attorney General’s office issued new guidance to law enforcement to help keep tenants in their residences during the governor’s eviction moratorium, which has been extended until at least mid-June.

The directive outlines how officers should respond to lockout calls

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says police officers are often unsure how to handle calls from tenants who have been locked out of their homes for not paying rent. Tenant advocates say while officers were sympathetic in many cases, they weren’t sure what action they could take.

Under the new policy, officers can determine whether an illegal eviction is taking place and issue warnings to the property owner or landlord, making sure tenants are allowed to return. If landlords ignore the warning, officers should issue a complaint summons, which could amount to a fourth-degree crime.

The economic impact of the pandemic continues to mount while courts suspend all in-person proceedings

Since the health care crisis began, nearly 2 million New Jersey residents have filed for unemployment insurance, and tens of thousands have applied for aid under the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Also, bankruptcy cases have slowed due to the suspension of all in-person judicial proceedings for civil and criminal cases, which remains in effect through June 1 and could be extended again.

Homeowner protections also sought by feds

One year after the pandemic began, roughly 2.5 million homeowners across the U.S. are enrolled in mortgage forbearance programs protecting them from foreclosure. Even with these protections in place, the Mortgage Bankers Association says about 5% are delinquent on their payments.

As those programs wind down, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is considering safeguards to make sure families don’t lose their homes. The CFPB will likely propose a new rule blocking mortgage providers from starting foreclosure proceedings until after Dec. 21, 2021.

Protect your home and your rights

Tenants and homeowners have extraordinary protections during this uncertain time. If you are under the threat of losing your home, call Law Office of Michael P. McGuire, LLC at 732-704-7331 to schedule a free consultation. Se habla español.