On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Docket No. LT-11264-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 24, 2011
Before Judges Parrillo and Skillman.
Defendant is a former tenant in an apartment in Rahway owned by plaintiff. Defendant appeals from a default judgment for possession of the apartment entered on January 14, 2011 and the part of an order entered on February 14, 2011 that denied her motion to vacate the default judgment.
Based on the judgment for possession, defendant was evicted from the apartment. Plaintiff suggests that defendant's eviction moots this appeal. However, we are satisfied that the record of defendant's eviction could have an adverse impact upon her future opportunities to rent housing, which gives her a sufficient interest to pursue this appeal notwithstanding its technical mootness. See Sandersen v. Royal, 386 N.J. Super. 246, 251 (App. Div. 2005).
Plaintiff's summary dispossession action was based on defendant's alleged disorderly conduct in the premises and violations of the landlord's rules and regulations. Such a dispossession action is governed by the requirements of the Anti-Eviction Act set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1. "Unless the landlord demonstrates compliance with these statutory provisions, a judgment for possession may not be entered." RWB Newton Assocs. v. Gunn, 224 N.J. Super. 704, 709 (App. Div. 1988).
Under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(b), a landlord may obtain a judgment for possession if she shows that "[t]he [tenant] has continued to be, after written notice to cease, so disorderly as to destroy the peace and quiet of the occupants or other tenants living in said house or neighborhood," and under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(d), a landlord may obtain a judgment for possession if she shows that "[t]he [tenant] has continued, after written notice to cease, to substantially violate or breach any of the landlord's rules and regulations." If the tenant's actions provide grounds for eviction under either of these subsections, the landlord must make a "written demand and . . . written notice for delivery of possession of the premises[,]" sometimes referred to as a "notice to quit," before filing a summary dispossession action. N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2. This notice must be filed three days before filing a dispossession action under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(b), N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2(a), and thirty days before filing an action under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(d), N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2(b).
Absent "strict compliance" with these notice requirements, a trial court lacks jurisdiction to entertain an action for summary dispossession under the Anti-Eviction Act. 224 Jefferson Condo. Ass'n v. Page, 346 N.J. Super. 379, 384 (App. Div. 2002); see also Kuzuri Kijiji, Inc. v. Bryan, 371 N.J. Super. 263, 272 (2004).
In this case, plaintiff served defendant with a "Notice to Cease" on or about October 15, 2010, which stated that defendant:
[M]ay be evicted for the following reasons:
1. Causing and inflicting bodily harm to upstairs tenants.
2. Endangering the safety of a minor.
3. Causing distress and verbal abuse ...