Legal Services in New Jersey is warning renters not to ignore notices of mandatory settlement conferences if their landlords already have filed eviction notices.
Morris County announced today that federal rental assistance remains available to qualified families and can assist landlords, as Legal Services of New Jersey additionally warned renters not to ignore court notices related to settlement of eviction actions.
The announcements come as New Jersey’s COVID-19 moratorium on residential evictions prepares to end in January.
Officials said The Morris County Department of Humans Services has received more than $14.6 million in rental assistance to disperse among qualified families.
The aid can assist landlords as well as qualified families.
“Rental assistance funds are still available in Morris County and the State of New Jersey to people from low- and moderate-income households who had a substantial reduction in income, have qualified for unemployment benefits, incurred significant costs or experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kasey Errico, Director of Morris County Human Services.
As of last week, 1,541 applications were submitted, with 513 applications being approved to date and those households receiving more than $4 million in aid.
Morris County is urging renters to determine if they qualify and to apply.
Renters may inquire about the program by simply checking the criteria provided at the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) COVID-19 Information website. Some of the qualifications also are listed further below.
To apply, simply click HERE
The federal Emergency Rental Assistance funding is designed to help avert a housing crisis for tenants in critical need of such support.
The funding also will bring needed relief to landlords, who have been challenged by the financial impacts of the pandemic as well, according to Errico.
Morris County partnered with the DCA, as have other counties, to utilize the state’s program vendor and eliminate confusion for those in need by using one on-line portal to access the assistance application.
KNOW OF EVICTION ACTIONS & YOUR RIGHTS
While Governor Phil Murphy’s pandemic moratorium on evictions does not expire until January 2022, it does not prevent landlords from initiating eviction court proceedings before then – and New Jersey courts may summon renters for “mandatory settlement conferences” well before the eviction moratorium deadline.
The conferences are only designed to determine whether an eviction case may be settled without going to trial and does not obligate any renter or landlord to enter into an agreement.
But appearances are mandatory.
“If you do not appear, a default judgement will enter against you, meaning you will lose the case,” Legal Services warned in a new flyer.
The agency also advised renters that they do not have to agree to settle the case, just appear for the conference.
“You do not have to agree to pay any money. You do not have to agree to move out. Landlords and tenants who do not make an agreement will have a trial scheduled when the court stats holding trials,” said Legal Services.
Legal Services in New Jersey has a hotline and website application for families facing eviction to determine if they are eligible for free legal advice: