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Housing Authority of Jersey City v. Myers

August 23, 1996

HOUSING AUTHORITY OF JERSEY CITY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WALTER MYERS, DEFENDANT.



Cavanaugh, J.s.c.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cavanaugh

OPINION

CAVANAUGH, J.S.C.

This case is a summary dispossess action to terminate defendant's, Walter Myers, tenancy because of alleged drug activity on the leased premises. See N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(p). Myers resides at 569 Montgomery Street, Apartment # 98-5, Jersey City. Plaintiff, Housing Authority of Jersey City is a public housing agency subject to the United States Housing Act of 1937, and the regulations pursuant thereto.

On April 7, 1995, Myers was arrested for possession of CDS paraphernalia - three empty glassine bags bearing logos by which CDS is commonly distributed. Myers was charged with a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2.

Plaintiff mailed a notice terminating Myers' tenancy by regular mail and certified mail on October 23, 1995. The notice stated Myers' tenancy was terminated as of October 31, 1995, eight days later. The certified mail notice was returned unclaimed, but the regular mail notice was not returned and hence, presumed received.

Myers has made a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the eight day notice given does not comply with 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437d(l)(3). Myers argues that this provision requires thirty days notice. Plaintiff argues it requires only reasonable notice. The court agrees with Myers and dismisses the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.

LEGAL DISCUSSION

The Special Civil Part does not have jurisdiction to enter a judgment of possession unless the notices served comply with all statutory dictates. (See N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2; cf. Carteret Properties v. Variety Donuts, Inc., 49 N.J. 116, 124, 228 A.2d 674 (1967) (proper notice essential to exercise the court's jurisdiction). Proper notice must also comply with provisions of the lease between the parties. Housing Authority of the City of Bayonne v. Isler, 127 N.J. Super. 568, 572-73, 318 A.2d 432 (App. Div. 1974). The recent decision in Housing Authority of the City of Newark v. Raindrop, 287 N.J. Super. 222, 670 A.2d 1087 (App. Div. 1996), has made clear that federal regulations controlling HUD leases must be complied with fully for the trial court to have jurisdiction to enter a judgment of possession. Raindrop, (supra) , 287 N.J. Super. at 229.

Myers argues that he should be afforded thirty days' notice, rather than eight days, under the following provision:

(l) Leases; terms and conditions; maintenance; termination. Each public housing agency shall utilize leases which:

(1) * * *

(2) * * *

(3) require the public housing agency to give adequate written notice of termination of the lease ...


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