When Will The New Jersey Eviction Moratorium End?
As Covid-19 restrictions begin to be eased in New Jersey, especially with the removal of a mask requirement both indoors and outdoors for vaccinated individuals on May 28, life is slowly returning to a pre-pandemic level. However, one restriction which has remained is the eviction moratorium on residential evictions in New Jersey. Currently, New Jersey is subject to two different eviction moratoria: one at the federal level by the CDC, and the other at the state level by the State of New Jersey. It is important to distinguish between the two because the CDC’s eviction moratorium may end prior to New Jersey’s eviction moratorium. However, it appears that both eviction moratoria have an end in sight.
CDC’s Eviction Moratorium
The CDC’s eviction moratorium has been challenged by landlords and their attempt to challenge the CDC’s decision was successful. Judge Friedrich, from the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, ruled that the CDC did not have the authority to extend the eviction moratorium past its January 2021 end date without Congressional approval. Effectively, under federal law the eviction moratorium, as a matter of law, expired. However, Judge Friedrich recently granted the Justice Department’s motion for an injunction to allow the eviction moratorium to remain in effect until an appeal is taken. In Judge Friedrich’s opinion, she stated that due to the public health crisis caused by Covid-19, and the fact that only 37.5% of all Americans at the time of the decision have been fully vaccinated, leaving people homeless would increase the spread of the Covid-19 virus. So, for the time being, the CDC’s federal eviction moratorium is still in effect.
The federal eviction moratorium was due to expire at the end of June, however, it appears that the Biden Administration will extend the national eviction moratorium until the end of July. This week, the United States Supreme Court held that the CDC eviction moratorium was not properly authorized, but the High Court declined to issue an injunction to lift the moratorium because it is scheduled to expire at the end of July.
While the federal eviction moratorium will end next month, New Jersey’s eviction moratorium is almost certain to end later. New Jersey’s eviction moratorium was related to the state of emergency. Governor Murphy declared a state of emergency regarding Covid-19 in Executive Order 103 in March 2020. Under Executive Order 106, signed by Governor Murphy a few days after Executive Order 103 in March of 2020, no resident of New Jersey was able to be evicted until sixty days after the state of emergency ends (the moratorium does not apply to commercial tenants). Governor Murphy continued to extend the state of emergency every thirty days as required by law, with Executive Order 240 extending the state of emergency in New Jersey until June 13. However, on June 4, Governor Murphy came to an agreement with the New Jersey State Legislature to end the state of emergency. In conjunction with the State Legislature’s passing of a bill that kept some of Governor Murphy’s Covid executive orders and powers in place, Governor Murphy then issued an executive order ending the state of emergency in New Jersey. Pursuant to the agreement with the state legislature, the eviction moratorium in New Jersey is now scheduled to end on December 31, 2021. It is estimated that there are currently 50,000 eviction cases pending before New Jersey Courts, with another almost 200,000 to be filed by the end of the year.
While landlords should be prepared for the eviction moratorium to end on December 31, there is a possibility that the eviction moratorium could end even earlier for certain individuals who meet income thresholds. Pursuant to a new bill which passed in the New Jersey State Legislature, the eviction moratorium would end for higher-earning families earlier than the agreed-upon December 31, 2021 date. The bill, currently labeled as S3691, states that if a family earns an income above 80% of their area’s median income, then they would be eligible for eviction beginning on August 31, 2021. If a family’s income is below 80% of the area’s median income, then they would not be eligible for eviction until December 31, 2021. Additionally, when discussing possible areas of how to spend federal funding given in the latest round of the federal government’s stimulus program, the state has pledged $500 million towards rental assistance. The bill is headed to Governor Murphy’s office for signature.
We’ll continue to track these issues as they evolve.
The author acknowledges the assistance of William Olson, a law clerk at McKirdy, Riskin, Olson & DellaPelle, in preparing this article. Mr. Olson is a member of the class of 2021 at Rutgers Law School.