A common question posed by landlords is whether a landlord can lock out a tenant for not paying rent. While the answer may seem obvious to some, it still happens very frequently. The answer is a simple one: No, you may never lock out a tenant.
The only way that a landlord may evict a tenant is by making an application to the Superior Court of New Jersey. It is through the Superior Court that a special court officer can be appointed to legally evict a tenant.
If a landlord attempts to lock out a tenant without seeking the appropriate application with the Superior Court, the landlord can be charged with a disorderly persons offense. A disorderly persons offense is what most individuals know as a misdemeanor. In New Jersey, a conviction of a disorderly persons offense can result in up to 180 days in jail. Thus, should a landlord attempt to lock out a tenant, the landlord would not only be violating landlord-tenant laws, but would be violating New Jersey criminal laws as well.
To ensure a tenant is evicted legally and to avoid potential criminal consequences, a landlord should consult an attorney to handle the process. The attorneys at The Cintron Firm are experienced in handling landlord-tenant disputes. With offices in Ridgefield Park, New Brunswick, Montclair, and Hackensack, our lawyers have handled landlord-tenant cases in Hudson County, Bergen County, Essex County, Passaic County, Union County, Morris County and Middlesex County.