Throughout the COVID pandemic, both the federal and state governments have instated protections for homeowners and renters in the form of foreclosure and eviction moratoriums. These protections are changing now for some NJ residents. Whether or not you are protected will now come down to your household income. Here is what you need to know.
How long you will be protected under the new eviction moratorium will depend on your income and the reason your landlord is trying to evict you. If your landlord is attempting to evict you because of missed rent payment, consistently late rent payments, or refusal to pay a rent increase, you will be protected under the new law until the end of August. Beyond this, you will need to determine how your household income impacts your protections. If your household income is above 80% of the median income in your county, but below 120%, you will be protected until the end of August. If, however, your household income is below 80% of your county's median income, you will be protected through the end of 2021.
The CDC has also issued its own federal eviction moratorium through October 3rd, 2021, that protects households living in high COVID-19 transmission areas from being evicted. In New Jersey, this includes every county except for Warren County. The federal moratorium also stipulates that a renter has to make less than $99,000 a year ($198,000 for couples), certify that they attempted to obtain rental assistance, and show that they are currently making an effort to make partial payments. These protections do not cover evictions for reasons outside of late or missed rent payments. If your landlord is seeking eviction for other reasons that fall outside of the purview of the new law, then evictions can proceed.
If you meet the qualifications for the state protections, you will need to submit a certification at covid19.nj.gov/pages/renter or call at 609-490-4550. You will legally certify your household's income, that you and your household were unable to pay rent due to the pandemic, and that you and your household applied for state, county, or local rent assistance programs. If your landlord has already filed for eviction, the form will also ask for your docket number. A copy of this form needs to go to your landlord or be presented in court should you be summoned before the form is processed. Depending on if you qualify, any cases against you will be dismissed. Your landlord will have to bring a new case against you after the protections are no longer applicable.
The state bill also allocated an additional $500 million in rental assistance and up to $250 million for utility assistance. Households making 30% or less of their county's median income will qualify to receive an amount that allows them to pay no more than 30% of their household income toward rent. Households making between 30% and 80% of their county's median income qualify for the same, with a cap at $800 a month. Households making between 80% and 120% of their county's median income also qualify for the same, with a cap of $500 a month. Qualifying households will be required to provide proof of income every six months at which time the subsidy can be increased or decreased based on need.
If you are still struggling to pay your rent due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are still many options that will allow you to keep you in your residence until you get back on your feet. The state and the federal government want to keep residents housed through the end of this pandemic.