Real Estate Law

Complex Commercial Tenancies Often Test the Limits of the Summary Eviction Process

I recently co-authored an article, entitled "Commercial Tenancies, Complexities, And The Limits Of the Summary Eviction Process," that discusses, as the title suggests, situations where commercial landlord-tenant matters may be too complicated for the normal, summary eviction process in New Jersey courts. Here are the first few paragraphs:

New Jersey tenants who don't pay, including commercial tenants, may be swiftly dispossessed of their leasehold pursuant to the Summary Dispossess Statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:18-51 to -61 (the "Statute"), [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this statute: lexis.com | Lexis Advance]. The Statute gives landlords the right to seek the removal of tenants who do not pay rent, or who otherwise violate the terms of the lease. The Statute establishes a summary eviction process, which as its name implies, is "summary" in nature and, among other things, does not provide for formal discovery and typically does not involve issues other than possession. From the filing of the summary dispossession complaint it is not uncommon for a tenant to be dispossessed within 90 days or less.

However, what happens when a tenant is not paying rent for a valid reason or due to a legitimate dispute with a landlord? Can that tenant also be summarily dispossessed? Recognizing the limits of a process that by design is "summary" in nature, New Jersey Courts have answered that question "No." The mechanism to stave off the summary dispossession is the motion to transfer to the Law Division, which remedy is exercisable by a court, at its discretion, if the issues are of "sufficient importance" that proceeding in a summary fashion would not do justice. N.J.S.A. 2A:18-60, [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this statute: lexis.com | Lexis Advance]. Typically, matters of "sufficient importance" involve complex issues and/or the need for discovery.

Please check out the full article here.

    By: Peter J. Gallagher (@pjsgallagher)

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I hope Pete's Take will be equal parts informative and entertaining. My goal with this blog is to report on cases and issues that I find relevant, or at least interesting, and hope you will too. I am a commercial litigator. In my career I have handled cases that run the gamut from complex commercial litigation to the more routine commercial matters that fill our time. Being a “generalist,” I have been exposed to various industries and areas of the law, and “Pete’s Take” will reflect this wide-ranging experience and my sometimes wider-ranging interests in the law. I hope you enjoy it and come back often.

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