Can I evict my ex-girlfriend now that we’ve broken up?

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Q. Two people were in a relationship for over five years and broke up. Can one person evict the other even during the coronavirus? Does the person have any tenant rights because she is paying rent?
— Crushed

A. This won’t be a simple situation.

New Jersey law recognizes verbal lease agreements, said Jeralyn Lawrence, a family law attorney with Lawrence Law in Watchung.

As such, a lease need not be in writing and executed by a landlord and tenant for that agreement to be considered an enforceable contract, she said.

“Here, the parties were dating and residing together, but when the relationship terminated, the girlfriend paid rent to remain on the property and the boyfriend accepted the payment,” she said. “The exchange of funds to remain on the property has created a landlord-tenant relationship under New Jersey law.”

Even assuming there exists no written rules or restrictions between the parties, the very fact that the boyfriend agreed to his former girlfriend continuing to reside in his home in exchange for rent payments probably provides the former girlfriend with a verbal lease agreement, Lawrence said.

“Absent the agreement of the former girlfriend to vacate the premises, the boyfriend will likely be required to pursue eviction proceedings,” she said.

At this time, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Executive Orders have been issued in New Jersey suspending evictions, with limited exceptions, she said.

The current eviction moratorium will expire on Sept. 26, 2020, though it is likely to be extended by Executive Order beyond that date, she said.

“We encourage you to contact an attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law to assist you in addressing these issues, which are particularly fact sensitive considering there exists no written and executed lease agreement, as well as those issues associated with COVID-19 eviction restrictions,” Lawrence said.

Email your questions to moc.p1603549317leHye1603549317noMJN1603549317@ksA1603549317.

This story was originally published on Sept. 23, 2020.

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