Commercial litigators seldom have reason to reach for the New Jersey landlord-tenant statutes. When a client seeks to evict a commercial tenant for unpaid rent, however, the client may ask whether the law permits the use of “self-help” eviction to oust the nonpaying lessee. In advising such clients, practitioners should be aware that published opinions addressing self-help evictions in the commercial setting have recognized constitutional constraints upon the self-help remedy. These decisions have led at least one commentator to conclude that all commercial, self-help evictions must conform to the procedural Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, this view is mistaken: where self-help evictions do not implicate “state action,” landlords may dispense with the formal, procedural prerequisites otherwise mandated by the Constitution.
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