NEW LAW PROTECTS RESIDENTS OF CERTAIN RESIDENTIAL HEALTH CARE FACILITIES (RHCFs) FROM ARBITRARY EVICTION OR DISCHARGE
The Community Health Law Project, along with the Mental Health Association in New Jersey and other advocates, was instrumental in helping to draft and promote a new law signed by Governor Christie on September 13, 2017 (N.J.S.A. 30:11A-3(d)) which creates new rights for residents of "free-standing" RHCFs (those not operated by or affiliated with a hospital or other licensed healthcare facility).
Under the new law, the owner, operator or administrator of any covered RHCF may involuntarily remove a resident from the facility only after obtaining a Judgment of Possession, following eviction proceedings in landlord-tenant court. Prior to this new law, residents of RHCFs could be involuntarily discharged on 30 days' notice at the discretion of the operator without any right to due process before an impartial tribunal. The new law will protect RHCF residents from arbitrary removal and will place the authority to evict a resident in the hands of a court to make an independent, neutral decision.
RHCF operators must now convince an impartial judge, using competent and sufficient evidence, that a resident whom they seek to remove has violated one of the grounds enumerated in the anti-eviction statute, such as non-payment of rent or disorderly conduct.
In addition to the strict procedural requirements outlined in the anti-eviction statute, this new law also requires operators to provide prompt written notice to the county welfare agency, the Department of Community Affairs, and the New Jersey Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman of any proposed eviction of a resident. The notice must be provided at the time that a complaint for eviction is filed and a copy attached thereto. This should help to ensure that appropriate discharge planning has been done, should an eviction be ordered by the court.
If you learn of any residents who have been, or may be in danger of being, involuntarily discharged from a covered RHCF, you are urged to offer them a referral to the Community Health Law Project at (973) 275-1175.