Through a Notice to the Bar dated June 4, 2021, the Supreme Court of New Jersey approved the establishment of a statewide Landlord Tenant Legal Specialist Program (the “Program”), as recommended by the Judiciary Special Committee on Landlord Tenant. This new Program was created to assist in the review and administrative processing of all landlord-tenant actions, including the current pending cases and the massive influx of new filings expected once the moratorium has expired.
The Program will be administered at the vicinage level under the authority of the Assignment Judge, who will appoint the Landlord Tenant Legal Specialist(s) for the vicinage using the regular recruitment and appointment process for vicinage staff. The Specialists main focus will be to perform nonjudicial administrative functions. Such duties will include:
- Reviewing landlord tenant pleadings to determine compliance with legal requirements, including the all statutes, Court Rules and any Executive Orders.
- Conducting case management conferences to collect and confirm information, such as claims and defenses.
- Conducting settlement conferences in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution without trial.
It is noted that landlords can still file complaints for possession for evictions in the Special Civil Part Landlord-Tenant Division, but no evictions and lockouts can take place, absent certain circumstances.