We Broke Up but She Refuses to Move Out: NJ Eviction Laws

nj eviction

Renting an apartment, condominium or house is a great option for people who aren’t ready to buy a home yet. If you signed your rental agreement as the only tenant, what happens if you meet someone and get into a serious relationship? Most landlords are with your significant other moving in with you, as long as they are informed ahead of time.

It’s such a fun time – moving in together, setting up house and talking about the future of your relationship. Will you get married? Have kids? Perhaps the two of you even take drives, hunting for your ideal NJ town as you consider growing a family together. What type of house would the two of you buy if you got married? Do you want a yard or a pool? Two-car garage or one?

Many relationships that begin just that way go on to enjoy happy marriages, producing one or several offspring, growing older together and watching children meet milestone after milestone. However, what if your ending isn’t of the happy variety?

Of course, not all relationships work out – even when you’ve gone so far as to move in together. In fact, the act of moving in together can sometimes be the straw that breaks the camel’s back; cohabitating is a great way to find out if you’re really compatible.

So, here you are: sharing your rented space with your significant other, and things go south. It’s beyond a fight – the relationship is over and beyond repair. Ideally, since you are the lessee and your girlfriend or boyfriend moved in with you, they would yield to your rights to the apartment and move out.

Sometimes, especially if you had a seemingly ‘perfect’ romantic relationship, breaking up is hard to do. Let’s be honest: breaking up is always difficult, but certain people may be less willing to let go without a fight, making an already challenging situation seemingly futile.

What can you do if your significant other (S.O.) decides to make breaking up impossible?

Your name is on the lease. Your relationship has ended, but your S.O. refuses to move out. Without physically picking her up and carrying all of her stuff to the curb (we specifically do not recommend this strategy) – how can you get your space back so that you can move on?

The bad news is, your relationship didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped and dreamed it would. The good news is, you’re not going to be stuck living with an ex forever, even if they throw a fit and resist moving out of your place.

Can I take legal action to remove my ex from my home?

You can! Ding! Ding! Ding! The fact that you solely leased the property and your S.O. is not named on the lease means you can file an Ejectment Action. In New Jersey, eviction law states that an Ejectment is appropriate when a (non-tenant) roommate to whom you are not married refuses to leave. Since they have no legal rights to remain living there, an Ejectment Action is the only recourse.

Because of the intense emotions surrounding kicking out an ex or loved one (Ejectment Actions can also be used to remove other friends or family members who refuse to leave), they have a high potential for contention. It is important that you are aware of this so that you remain calm and distance yourself from any action(s) that may prompt your S.O. to file a complaint against you for domestic violence. If this occurs, you may find yourself jointly kicked out of the rental.

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Collection Defense vs NJ Bankruptcy

If you have been sued by a collections company or “debt collector,” and the debt truly belongs to you, the most important piece of advice is: Do not ignore the lawsuit.

With that being said, people in your position naturally wonder if they have options. Being sued for a debt that perhaps you thought had been forgiven, or that had reached its statute of limitations, can come as a surprise. Many times we put these things out of our minds because it is easier than focusing on it and worrying about it.

Unfortunately, by putting a large debt that you failed to repay out of your mind, you are now faced with a lawsuit that asks you for the entire lump sum that you owe. This sum may even be larger than you remember due to late fees, attorney fees for the collections agency, and interest.

Is filing for bankruptcy your only option?

While it is impossible to give a blanket answer to this question (as everyone’s case will vary wildly) – the general answer is that no, bankruptcy is not your only option when you are being sued for an unpaid debt.

There are several things your NJ bankruptcy attorney will ask when you meet with him or her. Is this your only significant debt? What is your income? Can you repay this debt if it is broken down into payments?

If you have other debts along with the one in the lawsuit, and your income doesn’t allow you to get ahead on paying them back, it may be that bankruptcy is right for your situation.

Can you negotiate with the debt collector?

On the flip side, if the debt in this lawsuit is literally your only debt (outside of your mortgage and car payment), and your income is steady, you might want to have your bankruptcy/debt resolution attorney negotiate with the collection company.

For example, if your unpaid debt amount is $15,000, you may be able to talk the debt collector down several thousand if you pay in a lump sum. It is also possible to negotiate a payment schedule if you wish to avoid bankruptcy.

Is collection defense an option for you?

Collection defense is only appropriate if the debt in the lawsuit doesn’t belong to you, or if the lawsuit contains errors. So, if you are being sued in error, then collection defense is an option, but the reason many people opt for a different resolution is that collection defense representation can get expensive. Regardless of how much you pay your attorney, you can still end up losing the case, even if the debt collector is in the wrong. This is because NJ law doesn’t require strict proof of signed agreements when it comes to credit cards. Therefore, you may end up owing hefty attorney’s fees and still have to repay the debt in full when all is said and done if you go this route.

The only way to know for sure which direction you should go is to sit down with a NJ bankruptcy lawyer or debt resolution attorney. Often, bankruptcy attorneys also specialize in credit repair and debt resolution strategies other than bankruptcy, so look for an attorney who is well-versed in all areas in which you need assistance.

Bidding on a NJ Foreclosure Property: The Lowdown

NJ foreclosure

Buying a home at a NJ foreclosure sale (or sheriff’s sale, as they are commonly called) can be a fantastic way to score a property at below-market price. While there are some risks and pitfalls to be aware of when bidding at a foreclosure auction, if you’re well-informed, you’ll likely come out of the process happy and (hopefully) successful!

Naturally, the most obvious advantage of purchasing a home via sheriff’s sale is the low price you’re likely to pay. Foreclosure sales are a great way to gain ownership of a rental property or a home you intend to “flip.” Homes that are being auctioned at a New Jersey foreclosure sale have been through the judicial foreclosure process that our state requires, and the lender has been permitted by the court to move forward with selling via auction.

How can I find out about upcoming NJ foreclosure sales?

This is one of the best parts about buying a foreclosed property in New Jersey. Sheriff’s sales are required to be advertised for a minimum of 30 days. You can find listings of upcoming sheriff’s sales in local newspapers for each county. Many jurisdictions also have sheriff’s sale listings online on their county court website.

How does a sheriff’s sale work?

In New Jersey, foreclosure auctions are controlled or led by the sheriff’s department of the property’s county. All local county rules must be followed, however, there are several general rules that are consistent across all counties, according to NJ law.

  1. NJ foreclosure properties up for sale must be sold subject to the first mortgage held on the property. This information can usually be found within the property’s first lien.
  2. Any NJ foreclosure sale will also be subject to any/all local state or federal liens on the property.

Because of the above information, all bidders at NJ sheriff’s sales would be remiss to fail to run a complete title search on the property in question before even considering bidding. Failure to do so could land you with a property that is deeply encumbered by multiple liens, for which you will be 100% responsible.

In New Jersey, foreclosure sales usually start with the lender being given an opportunity to open the bidding. Most lenders will start with a $100 bid. Bidding on the property continues via voice auction between all of the interested parties present at the auction.

The usual course of a NJ sheriff’s sale/auction continues with bidding the price of the property higher and higher until a highest bidder remains. If you are the lucky bidder, you will be required to pay a 20% deposit of your bid price.

Upon conclusion of the bidding, the sale is considered to have ended. However, the end of the sale triggers what is known as the Redemption Period. This is a ten day period during which the original owner (who was foreclosed upon) is allowed to “redeem” the property. This can only be done if the original owner can completely pay off the foreclosure judgement amount, including any additional fees and costs (and potential liens).

At the end of the Redemption Period, if the original homeowner does not choose to redeem the home, you will be given a sheriff’s sale deed. When you receive this deed, it is expected that you will make full payment of the balance of your successful auction bid. You’ll also have to handle any fines that accrued relating to the property, after which you will be able to officially transfer the title from the former owner to yourself!

NJ Foreclosure Sale: What is an Arm’s Length Transaction?

When a piece of real property is scheduled for NJ foreclosure sale (also known as and commonly referred to as the Sheriff’s Sale), an interested buyer, investor or “house hunter” may reach out directly to the homeowner. Even when a homeowner’s property is in foreclosure with the Sheriff’s Sale scheduled, they (the owner) have the legal right to attempt to sell the home.

A home that is in NJ foreclosure is likely to sell at Sheriff’s Sale for substantially less than its real value. This can end with the original homeowner owing the lender the difference between how much they still owed on their mortgage loan and the foreclosure sale price. This is called a deficiency, and although lenders do not always pursue a deficiency judgement from the court, sellers should know that it is always a possibility.

Armed with information about a potential deficiency judgement, a homeowner going through the foreclosure process is smart to attempt to find a buyer before the Sheriff’s Sale date. In fact, should the homeowner find an “arm’s length” buyer prior to the foreclosure sale, it’s good news all around. The lender doesn’t have to move forward with their sale, which saves them time and money, and of course, the original homeowner may very well receive a better offer outside of a Sheriff’s Sale. Lastly, the new buyer can feel good about purchasing a foreclosure property before it is up for public sale, eliminating the competition.

What is an Arm’s Length Transaction?

When a homeowner’s lender moves forward with foreclosure, the homeowner still retains ownership and the ability to sell the property before the Sheriff’s Sale, but there are several stipulations in order to guarantee that a seller in this situation can only sell to a party who is considered an Arm’s Length buyer.

For a transaction like this to be considered fair, New Jersey real estate laws state that both the buyer and the seller must not be in any kind of relationship that is closer than “arm’s length.” The following are examples of relationships that are not arm’s length, and therefore would not be ideal buyers before the Sheriff’s Sale:

  • Family members
  • Close friends
  • Employer/employee
  • Parent company/subsidiary
  • Trust/beneficiary

As long as the homeowner is negotiating with someone who is not acting in the homeowner’s best interest (for example, a parent buying the home below market value only to allow their child, the seller, to keep living there), the end result of a transaction prior to foreclosure sale is typically a good idea.

An Arm’s Length Transaction must involve two parties who are independently acting for their own self-interest. Also, the best and fairest deal that is close to the home’s market value should ultimately be the goal of this type of transaction.

Is it Illegal to Participate in a Non-Arm’s Length Transaction?

While it is not necessarily illegal to sell to a non-arm’s length buyer, when a homeowner is already immersed in the foreclosure process, it is advisable to follow the recommendations of an experienced NJ foreclosure/real estate attorney. Ask your attorney to hook you up with a reputable tax professional as well, because transferring property to a non-arm’s length buyer comes with additional tax implications.

Learn more about your rights during foreclosure!

 

Veitengruber Law: Reviews

We can talk about our experience until we’re blue in the face, but you’ll still want to know what our former clients have to say, right? It’s only natural! Everyone here at Veitengruber Law looks for reviews on professionals we’re considering working with (whether privately or professionally) as well.

Here’s what some of Veitengruber Law’s online reviews say. Names have been abbreviated to initials for client privacy.

“George is that rare species of professional possessing a fierce intelligence and a generous heart. He really does act as a “cornerstone for financial justice” in the lives of his clients. Couple this with impeccable integrity and you have an idea of George’s value to his clients. He is the complete package in legal representation.” – E.A.

“I first hired George to help with some collections for my business. After he handled that with such great results, he reviewed our billing procedures. He made some changes to the invoices which helped to minimize future problems. He is very thorough and [I] highly recommend George. He has reasonable fees and a high level of integrity.” – M.H.

“George is a very experienced collections attorney. He is a cool negotiator and gives me consistently solid advice on our collections issues. Many times, based on his advice, we are able to settle even without having to retain him. When we do retain him he applies the same negotiation skill plus his vast legal experience to get us a positive outcome. I highly recommend him.” – D.G.

“George is someone who performs beyond the level expected of him. He is self-motivated, inquisitive, and goal-oriented. While working for me, he demonstrated a strong work ethic, met tight deadlines and was very resourceful in the manner in which he managed client expectations.” – V.O.

“George has advised me on several business organizing efforts and was also the determining force in collecting a delinquent account for my company within 90 minutes of my retaining him. Yes…90 minutes. Not 90 days. He recouped several thousand dollars. George is my go-to guy!” – K.C.

“George took a bad situation […], and within days had all of the details worked out and problems solved. All during this process he communicated with me, eased my worries and assured me all would be well. He delivered outstanding service and I will most certainly call on George again should the need arise.” – K.D.

“Great mortgage lawyer. Down to earth and to the point.” R.G.

I am an attorney in Arizona, and from time to time I have needed information regarding New Jersey law. I have found Mr. Veitengruber to be very knowledgeable, and still friendly and approachable. I am glad that I will never have to try a case against him.” T.C., Esq.

Want to read more what our clients are saying? Visit our Testimonials page for more reviews.

 

What is a Cloud on a Title Report?

As much as we all love to capture images of the beautiful and interesting “cloudscapes” above us, we know too, that clouds can signal storms. This holds true figuratively as well as literally. A cloud found on a title report during a real estate transaction can be quite disconcerting as well as potentially predictive of an impending problem.

Here at Veitengruber Law, we like to make sure that our clients as well as our blog readers have a clear understanding of as much legal language as possible. We’re the first to admit that almost every area of the law is absolutely bursting with legalese that can make many legal processes mind-boggling. We deal with these terms on a daily (dare we say ‘hourly’?) basis, but we know that you probably do not – so we always try to view legalese through your eyes.

What does it mean if there is a “cloud on title?”

If you are in the process of buying or selling real property (real estate), one crucial step in the process is the title search. This step is typically performed by a real estate attorney or a title company. The earlier in your real estate process the title search is performed, the better, because discovering a clouded title right before closing will put a real damper on your excitement.

When a title search comes back as “clouded,” one of several main reasons is generally the cause:

Issues with probate

These issues usually arise with older homes who have had a multitude of owners. There are a lot more opportunities for error when previous owners have died while still in possession of the home. Locating the necessary death certificates and other documentation can prove to be rather time consuming.

Previous foreclosures

While foreclosure on its own isn’t a sufficient reason to cause a cloud on a title, if there were problems with the foreclosure procedure or the judgement, they may appear as a cloud on a title. In order to clear up foreclosure issues, it may be necessary to resubmit foreclosure documentation or potentially re-open the foreclosure case.

Fraud

Although a rather uncommon reason for a clouded title, it is possible that the deed to the property was at one time recorded fraudulently. While rare, if fraudulent transfer of the deed has occurred, you’re in for a long road to resolving the matter.

Liens

The most common reason a property may have a cloud on its title is because the property has one or more liens attached to it. A lien is a notice indicating that the current owner of the home owes money to one or more creditor. Any outstanding liens must be cleared up before the property’s title will officially be called “clear.”

Paperwork/recording mistakes

Even though we’ve been living in the Technology Age for nearly two decades, it is only very recently that governmental agencies/bureaucracies have made the move to computerized record-keeping. This means that most past transactions of the property in question were likely done solely on paper, which is much more likely to lead to errors. Many recording errors can be relatively easy to fix, but some can prove to be quite challenging.

As you can see, a clouded title can often be rather difficult to fix. As you absolutely cannot move forward on your real estate transaction without a clear title, it is best to work quickly with a New Jersey real estate attorney who has experience with clouded titles. Attempting to fix the problem yourself or hoping it will go away on its own may very well end without the sale or purchase of your dream home.

Dying Without a Will in NJ: Who is an Heir?

dying without a will in nj

Dying without a will in NJ doesn’t mean that the state has the rights to all of the decedent’s assets. This is an unfortunate misconception, possibly because of the term given to passing away without a will: “dying intestate.”

Normally, when someone dies, an estate executor has been named in their estate planning documentation (Last Will and Testament). The executor is the person responsible for making sure all of the decedent’s assets are properly distributed as directed in their will.

However, dying without a will means that no executor has been named. So, who is going to take care of everything? It can be easy to hit the panic button when you realize that someone close to you has died without a will in place. Luckily, there are established rules for when this happens.

When no executor or executrix has been named, the New Jersey Surrogate’s Court then has the burden of selecting someone to act as such. This person is chosen from a list of the decedent’s “heirs.” Sometimes, it can be confusing and even upsetting trying to figure out if you may be an heir to someone’s estate. Since it is a big responsibility, this act is left up to the court.

An heir to a New Jersey estate is usually, but not always, a person from this list:

Surviving spouse

Surviving civil union partner

Adult child of the decedent

Adult grandchild of the decedent

Parent of the deceased

Adult sibling

Adult niece or nephew

Typically, the NJ court will select a person from the above list of heirs to act as the estate administrator. An estate administrator is able to act in the same way as a named executor or executrix would have acted. They will be charged with the responsibility of acting fairly and legally while deciding how the deceased’s property should be handled.

The heir selected as estate administrator must be sure to repay any of the decedent’s creditors from estate assets before distributing property to anyone else. If you have been selected as a New Jersey estate administrator, it is a good idea to work closely with an estate attorney so that you can avoid making critical mistakes during this time.

As estate administrator, you must be familiar with the New Jersey estate laws that dictate how an intestate decedent’s estate can be handled. The last thing you want is to discover that you’ve made a costly error and that you will be responsible for repaying it personally.

New Jersey heirs and appointed administrators can seek counsel from an experienced estate planning attorney near you to ensure that you are abreast of all of the laws that relate to dying without a will in your state.

 

Selling a NJ Property When the Owner has Passed Away

If you have recently experienced the loss of a parent, grandparent, or other close relative – first and foremost you have our sincere condolences. Making big decisions at a time like this can be difficult, as it can often be challenging to even manage regular, everyday life choices while grieving. It’s so unfortunate, then, that when a person close to us dies, we are often the one(s) charged with making very important and sometimes complex decisions regarding their estate.

It goes without saying that selling someone’s home is a lot easier when they’re alive as compared to after they’ve passed away. However, it’s not impossible, and there are a lot of resources for those who need to sell a home of a deceased owner in New Jersey.

To wit: New Jersey estate laws state that a deceased homeowner’s property can only be liquidated (sold) after the decedent’s will has been filed in Surrogate’s Court. Once a NJ will is filed, an executor will be named. To read more about what a New Jersey executor’s duties are, you can visit our blog post on that very topic.

In relation to selling the deceased’s real property, the estate executor (or executrix/female executor) must obtain Letters Testamentary from the Surrogate’s Court. To translate that legalese for you: this is a document that formally allows the estate executor to begin the process of selling the decedent’s home.

What if my parent died and didn’t leave a will?

When a NJ homeowner dies without a will, that means no executor has been named. While this may initially feel disastrous (as many things will in the aftermath of the death of a loved one), the simple recourse is that an heir to the estate simply requests to become the estate administrator. The legal form to request in this situation is called Letters of Administration.

Once there is an established executor or administrator, the sale of the home can move forward. The executor or administrator will be the only person qualified to sign any documents relating to the sale of the property (deed, real estate contract). This person will be signing “on behalf” of the decedent’s estate.

How can I get the New Jersey estate tax lien removed?

In New Jersey, estate taxes and inheritance taxes will be due upon the sale of the home of someone who has passed away. When the executor or administrator moves to sell the home, these taxes will appear as a “cloud” on a title report, which can give buyers pause. In order to ease the minds of potential buyers, the executor/administrator must apply for a NJ tax waiver. The good news is that this will ultimately release the lien. The bad news is that it can take awhile to receive the waiver.

Do I have to wait to sell my mother’s home until the NJ tax lien is removed from the title?

This is a common question asked by estate executors in NJ, and luckily it is one with the answer you’re probably looking for. You do NOT have to wait until the lien is removed to sell the home. Because NJ real estate transactions require “clear title” in order to progress, the executor or administrator can deposit enough money into an escrow account to be held until the taxes are paid. This act gives buyers peace of mind and will allow the sale of the home to move forward.

Can I sell my deceased parent’s home on my own?

Because of the relatively complex legal process involved in selling the home of a decedent in New Jersey, it is a good idea to work with a NJ estate planning attorney to ensure that you dot all of your I’s and cross all of your T’s.

3rd Annual Leadership Summit – Monmouth County, NJ

Can I Sue the Person Who Stole my Identity?

Stories of identity theft are on the rise in this country, which comes as a surprise to those who have become rather comfortable with trusting various forms of technology in every facet of their lives. Indeed, our techno-centric lives have contributed to the creation of tech savvy criminals who can hack virtually any computer system or device.

Although it seemed like identity theft and account hacking were less prevalent for a few years, accounts of stolen personal identifying information are now on the rise again. Hackers have learned their way around firewalls, safety features and encryption settings designed to prevent this very crime.

It seems like nearly every day that we hear about a friend’s Facebook, email or other online communication/social media account being hacked. While those used to be more of a nuisance than a danger – we can now shop right from our Facebook and other social media profiles. This means a hacker can shop as you if they are able to gain access to your account(s).

Additionally, there have been far too many reports of corporations experiencing data breaches – nearly everyone has received at least one notification letter in the mail detailing what information of theirs was potentially stolen during their recent cyber attack. Even giants like Target and Equifax have been victims of cyber crime.

What would you do if you discovered that your personal information – that being your name, birth date, social security number, home address, and other identifiers was stolen during one of these data breaches and used by another person in order to create accounts in your name? The potential for damage to your credit score is huge. What recourse do you have?

While it can be a primal instinct to want to sue the pants off the person who stole your information, that isn’t always easy to do. However, if you are able to pinpoint the criminal in question (or the corporation who allowed your personal data to be leaked) – it is possible to sue for up to three times the damages you experienced.

As soon as you realize that another person has been using your personal information to make purchases or perform other actions while posing as you – make a police report at your local police station. The sooner your identity theft matter is on record, the better. It’s important not to simply ignore it and hope it goes away, because you definitely want to avoid hitting the statute of limitations on a crime like this. Reports show that the average identity theft victim spends an average of two years trying to prove their own identity, getting charges removed from credit cards and fixing credit reports that now contain false information.

For more information about New Jersey identity theft and the statute of limitations on such crimes in our state, read about the Wrongful Impersonation statute (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-17) and contact a certified and experienced NJ credit repair attorney to help you right the wrongs that have been done.