Catherine Weiss, partner and Chair of the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest, speaks to the Daily Record about the risk of tens of thousands of evictions in New Jersey once Governor Murphy’s eviction moratorium lifts. Despite the state’s moves to provide vulnerable renters and others with various forms of relief, Weiss notes that “all regions of the state should anticipate a rise in evictions,” especially in counties with high rental populations. Since March, more than 16,000 eviction claims have been filed in New Jersey, and “that is a tiny fraction of what we're going to see in the next several months," states Weiss. Without significant financial relief, Weiss warns, “the result will be … mass eviction. We will displace tens of thousands of our neighbors, we will decimate low-income communities."
Weiss also cites serious concerns about virtual landlord-tenant settlement proceedings, which the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts has permitted in certain New Jersey counties. Conducted by Zoom or phone, the initial hearings have been “a due process catastrophe” for tenants, states Weiss. Under the best of circumstances, when hearings are in person, many cases settle or result in eviction. Virtual hearings put tenants at a distinct disadvantage, says Weiss: "There's a settlement being negotiated which they can't see. Nobody should ever sign a settlement agreement they can't read.” (subscription required to access article)