Jonathan M. Korn and Michael R. Darbee
Commercial landlord-tenant trials are returning to New Jersey.
On June 2, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court signed an Order ending the moratorium on commercial landlord-tenant eviction trials. Under the Order, pending and new commercial eviction cases will be scheduled for trial (the moratorium on residential landlord-tenant trials remains in effect). In line with a recent Notice to the Bar recognizing the “substantial benefits” of remote proceedings, such trials will proceed remotely (e.g., Zoom or Microsoft Teams), unless a participant shows it is unable to do so.
The Order ends a nearly fifteen-month moratorium on commercial landlord-tenant trials. The moratorium began in March 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although a February 2021 Order eased some of the restrictions on scheduling trials in the event of an “emergent circumstance,” the case backlog is nonetheless substantial. However, as both attorneys and the Court have adapted to remote proceedings during the pandemic, conducting trials remotely will likely alleviate the backlog more quickly than in-person trials alone.
This Order marks a big step in the return to “normalcy” for commercial landlords. We will continue to monitor for additional orders loosening the restrictions put in place when the pandemic began.