New Jersey

Housing Eviction Prevention and Utility Assistance Bill Signed

Gov. Phil Murphy today signed legislation that will provide housing eviction prevention and utility assistance for renters who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation (S-3691) appropriates an additional $500 million for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CVERAP) and $250 million for utility assistance, both programs administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

The bill also mandates new eviction and foreclosure moratorium deadlines and special eviction protections for tenants who were directly impacted by the pandemic. This legislation will ensure that New Jersey’s eviction moratorium continues through August for all state residents with household incomes below 120% Area Medium Income (AMI) and through the end of the year for certain households with incomes below 80% AMI. Yesterday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extending the nationwide moratorium on evictions for 60 days may provide additional protections for certain residents.

The governor also signed legislation (A-4463) providing additional protections for individuals who were unable to pay rent during the public health emergency by mandating that court records pertaining to their non-payment during this period be kept confidential.

“We have heard the continuing calls for help from New Jerseyans who are struggling to pay their rent and utilities. COVID-19 has put tenants and landlords in a difficult place, and I am pleased to say that more assistance is on the way,” Murphy said. “This bill is going to direct money to the people and programs that need it most. Housing and access to utilities are fundamental to human health and safety and we want to ensure that as many eligible applicants impacted by the pandemic get the help they need during this challenging time.”

The eviction prevention bill will gradually phase out the state’s eviction moratorium based on individual renters’ situations while mandating special protections for those who were unable to pay their rent during the period of March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2021, or, for certain tenants, through December 31, 2021. Additionally, the CVERAP program, which was previously aimed at those who were making less than 80 percent of AMI, will expand its scope of eligible applicants by August 31, 2021, to include those making less than 120 percent of AMI.

Additional details on S-3691:

  • Ensures that eviction protection is available for tenants with household incomes below 120 percent AMI who were unable to pay their rent between the covered period of March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021, and who provide a self-certification form to their landlords and, when applicable, to the court. Tenants meeting these requirements cannot ever be evicted for any outstanding rent during the covered period. While tenants who are covered by this special protection may not be evicted, this rent is still due to landlords and landlords may pursue this rent through a money judgment.
  • Provides additional eviction preventions for tenants with household incomes below 80 percent AMI, who have applied for state or local rental assistance, and who have experienced an economic impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants meeting these requirements who provide a self-certification for to their landlords and, when applicable, to the courts, are protected from eviction prior to December 31, 2021, for unpaid rent accrued from September 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. This is in addition to protection from eviction for rent accrued during the covered period as described above.
  • For the special eviction protections to take effect, the tenant MUST provide the required self-certification form to their landlord and, when applicable, to the courts.
  • All New Jersey households with income less than 120% AMI may apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
  • Landlords who are receiving rental assistance must waive any late fees accrued by tenants during the special protections period.
  • Landlords may not report delayed rent to crediting agencies and they cannot sell the debt.
  • Landlords may not disclose non-payment of rent to others and prospective landlords may not deny renting to a person who wasn’t able to pay rent during the covered period of March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021.
  • The moratorium on home foreclosures ends on November 15, 2021, for all income levels. This includes landlords facing foreclosure who currently have tenants.

The new funds appropriated through S-3691 bring the total funds allocated to the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Eviction Prevention Program to more than $1.2 billion.

The DCA Division of Housing and Community Resources (DHCR) also announced today that it has reached the milestone of delivering more than $100 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds throughout the state with nearly $131 million in rental relief having been distributed to more than 15,000 households to date. This funding milestone is in addition to the $91.75 million that DCA distributed to 15,000 households in the first phase of the CVERAP program last year.

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