In a recent decision, 350 Main Street, LLC v. Ren Guan Li d/b/a Sun Hing Restaurant, A-3265-09T4 (March 21, 2011), the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, examined whether the strict compliance requirements regarding notice under New Jersey’s Anti-Eviction Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1a) were applicable to the statute governing non-residential evictions (N.J.S.A. 2A:18-53). In answering this question in the negative, the Appellate Division examined various case precedents as well as the express language of both statutes.
In reaching its conclusion the Appellate Division noted that the Anti-Eviction Act expressly states that notice must be given to the residential tenant, “prior to the institution of the action [for possession].” Conversely, the statute governing non-residential evictions contains no such express language requiring notice before the commencement of suit. Thus, the Appellate Division held, “We find nothing in the plain language of N.J.S.A. 2A:18-53 that would permit or require us to read into that statute the requirement that notice to quit precede suit.” 350 Main Street, LLC at 13.
Moreover, the Appellate Division also noted that policy concerns surrounding the enactment of the Anti-Eviction Act have not been expressed in those cases concerning commercial evictions. Although unreported, the 350 Main Street, LLC decision should be a welcome sign for commercial landlords that New Jersey courts are not seeking to impose necessary protections in the residential context in matters in the commercial arena, where such protections are neither needed nor appropriate.
Nevertheless, landlords and commercial property owners should not construe this decision or the absence of such express notice language in the statute governing non-residential evictions to mean that they are free to proceed as they deem appropriate. Even in the commercial context, there are requirements that must be complied with otherwise, a commercial landlord could find itself embroiled in an lengthy legal battle, where had they sought the advice and consent of trusted counsel same could have been avoided.