Evictions can only occur through a court order after a landlord has sued the tenant for eviction in a Superior Court. Tenants cannot be evicted by a landlord telling the tenant that they are evicted or by threatening to evict.
Evictions are illegal when the landlord performs certain illegal acts to try to force the tenant out. Illegal evictions are considered a disorderly persons offense and the police must help tenants who are illegally being evicted. Landlords doing any of the following to try to get tenants out is illegal:
- The landlord uses violence or threats of violence.
- Shutting off the water, electricity, or gas to try to force you to move out.
- Locking you out of the rental.
- Holding or taking your clothing or furniture. This is illegal even if you owe rent.
A landlord who does any of these things is breaking the law and can be taken to court. A landlord or any other person who enters an apartment or property without a court order authorizing such entry and/or holds your belongings unlawfully by force or by threat of money owed may be liable to damages to you. If you are evicted in this way, you may file a complaint with the clerk of the Landlord-Tenant Court in the county where the illegal eviction has occurred.