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Spruce Park Apartments v. Beckett

Decided: November 4, 1988.

SPRUCE PARK APARTMENTS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARLES BECKETT, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by Fast, J.s.c.

Fast

OPINION

The plaintiff-landlord commenced this action pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(m) to evict the defendant-tenant by summary dispossess proceedings. That statutory section, in substance, allows the summary dispossession of a tenant who was formerly employed by a landlord where the tenancy was conditioned upon and in consideration of the employment. Defendant had been employed as a building superintendent by plaintiff, but the employment was terminated. Defendant was served with the requisite notice to quit and to vacate pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2.

Defendant has raised two defenses which are heretofore unreported in New Jersey. Those defenses are:

1) Defendant has contested the termination of his employment, and that matter is now proceeding with the National Labor Relations Board (N.L.R.B.). He therefore suggests that this eviction action should be stayed until the resolution of his claim of wrongful termination. This defense is based on the

premise that if the termination of employment was wrongful, then the termination of the tenancy was not based upon a proper foundation and therefore at the proper time, this eviction action should then be dismissed.

2) Defendant had been a tenant at another location (New York) owned or managed by plaintiff. Defendant moved to this apartment in connection with a promotion in his job. The compensation to defendant included this apartment, rent free. Further, the uncontradicted testimony in behalf of defendant was that if his employment were terminated, he would be able to continue his tenancy, albeit in one of the New York apartments, on a rent paying basis. He argues that his situation is within the considerations and rationale of Cruz v. Reatique, 212 N.J. Super. 195 (Law Div.Spec.Civ.Pt.1986), and that therefore the complaint should be dismissed.

This court rejects both defenses and will enter a judgment for possession.

Plaintiff emphasizes that the relief afforded to landlords by way of summary actions for possession was intended to provide a speedy recovery of rental premises. Newark Housing Auth. v. West, 69 N.J. 293, 300 (1976); Fargo Realty, Inc. v. Harris, 173 N.J. Super. 262 (App.Div.1980). Defendant emphasizes the legislative purpose behind the eviction laws, as stated in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1a(d), to wit,

This court finds that if a plaintiff has a right to possession pursuant to any of the grounds stated in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1, then the summary eviction process is proper. The protection of a tenant's rights was never intended to be a denial of a landlord's rights as defined by the legislature. The ". . . State eviction laws [are] designated [ sic ] to fairly balance and protect rights of tenants and landlords." N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1a(b).

To implement the concept of speedy relief, the Supreme Court adopted R. 6:3-4. It prohibits the joinder of other causes of action, counterclaims or third-party complaints with a summary action for possession. The result is to eliminate the additional time inherent in other claims being joined with this type of action. Technically, staying this action while awaiting the resolution of the N.L.R.B. action would not be a joinder, but it would have the same effect. The delay of determining the ...


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