Complying with the Notice to Cease Rules

What is the Timing for a Notice to Cease?

Some confusion has arisen concerning the difference between the time periods landlords are required to wait after serving a Notice to Cease, on the one hand, and the time period that they are required to wait after serving a Notice to Quit, on the other.

A Notice to Quit, which is the second notice in the statutory eviction protocol in more common types of evictions, has a statutorily prescribed time period.  For example, it is just 3 days for tenants who are disturbing the peaceful and quiet enjoyment and/or destroying the landlord’s property.  It is 30 days for rule or lease violations.  (These are just some examples).

There is no stated statutory time period for a Notice to Cease.

A recent case, Brunswick Street Associates v. Gerard, 357 N.J. Super. 548 (Law Div. 2002) has confirmed the proposition that the time period for a resident to comply with the Notice to Cease must be “reasonable” under the circumstances.  In that case illegal unregistered occupants were given five days to find a new place to live by the Landlord.  The Court there found that five days was not a reasonable time period.

Other examples would be the following: If a tenant has loud disturbing parties until two in the morning, a reasonable time period to stop that is immediately.  Once the tenant receives the Notice to Cease they should not expect other tenants to tolerate partying until two in the morning again.  If they do it one more time, you can send a Notice to Quit.

If you are involved with rule enforcement which requires the expenditure of a  significant amount of money (by your tenant), or requires people to relocate, then perhaps several weeks to 30 days (or perhaps more) might be a more  “reasonable” period of time.  In those cases, you should follow up and communicate with your residents after they have been given a Notice to Cease to attempt to get an agreed upon compliance date, or find out if there is a reasonable belief more time is appropriate (on the one hand) or perhaps that they are doing nothing about the violation.  These additional facts will help you decide how much time is reasonable.

By Christopher J. Hanlon, Esq., a NJ Landlord/Tenant Attorney

Should you have the need for legal counsel in this area, please contact chanlon@hnlawfirm.com or call toll-free (855) 376-5291.