June 1, 2010
SINGH REAL ESTATE, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
SELENA CHRISTMAS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Bergen County, Docket No. LT-9027-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: April 21, 2010
Before Judges Stern and Sabatino.
We affirm the judgment for possession*fn1 substantially for the reasons expressed in Judge Joseph Rosa's letter opinion dated January 26, 2009 filed pursuant to R. 2:5-1(b). We are in total agreement with Judge Rosa that a tenant cannot enter into a consent judgment to pay rent arrears and obtain Section 8 re-approval by a given date, fail to make those payments, be spared removal only because a warrant of removal was not issued over the holiday recess and nevertheless again be spared removal notwithstanding the failure to pay the arrearages over the recess and for three weeks thereafter. The "consent to enter judgment (tenant to stay in premises)," dated November 18, 2008, executed by defendant-tenant and her attorney expressly provided that if tenant did not make the payments of arrearages and rent as provided therein, which were payable "by" and "no later than" "12/15/08," "the tenant may be evicted." The pre-printed follow-up order of January 14, 2009, states it was "entered at the request of Defendant(s)-Tenant(s)," extending the stay until January 21, 2009, also embodied an agreement by tenant "that absolutely no more applications will be made for additional relief (extra time) from any Judge relating to the judgment or lockout (eviction)." It is undisputed that those payments were not even tendered for over a month after the "consent" judgment, on January 20 or 21, 2009, the date the "Order for Orderly Removal" expired.
Defendant's complaints about the living conditions and lack of repairs are irrelevant to this appeal given the November 2008 order. Moreover, more than six months have elapsed since the November 2008 order was entered, so the period during which a hardship stay could be granted has passed. See N.J.S.A. 2A:42-10.6.
Defendant states in her brief "that evicting a tenant despite the fact that the rent was satisfied seems to defeat the purpose of the Eviction for Just Cause Laws" and the Anti-Eviction statute. We understand the purposes of those laws and section 8 housing, and we recognize the societal need to reduce and avoid homelessness. However, we also agree with Judge Rosa that neither Housing Authority of Morristown v. Little, 135 N.J. 274 (1994)*fn2 nor the Anti-Eviction Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1, requires dismissal of a complaint whenever a tenant, no matter the prior agreements between the parties -- including counseled agreements -- or how long after the due date, tenders the arrearages and past due rent before the warrant of removal is served.
The stay heretofore entered by the Supreme Court pending the decision on this appeal is vacated, effective June 11, 2010.
Affirmed without prejudice to an application under Rule 4:50-1 to the trial court.