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United Veil Dying & Finishing Holding Company v. Grand Union Enterprises, Corp.

A-6413-00T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

LANDLORD-TENANT; EVICTION—Even though notice of default, under a lease, is to go to a tenant’s attorney, if the tenant shows up at the eviction hearing and is told to reappear with counsel at an adjourned hearing, but fails to do so, a default eviction judgment is appropriate.

A commercial tenant failed to pay its rent for a single month. After the ten-day grace period, the landlord “forwarded a copy of [a] summons and complaint for summary dispossess for non-payment of rent to [the tenant’s] president and counsel in accordance with the terms of the lease.” The pleadings were then filed and served upon the tenant. At the first trial, the tenant’s representative “appeared and indicated that his counsel was unavailable.” Over the landlord’s objection, the matter was adjourned for one week, “with an indication that counsel must appear.” At the second hearing, another adjournment was requested by the tenant’s representative because of unavailability of counsel, but the Court entered a default judgment for possession. The tenant did not deposit the accrued rent at the court or seek a stay of the judgment. Later, the tenant’s counsel filed a motion to vacate the default judgment, “asserting that it did not receive proper notice of the default as required by the lease.” There was no dispute that the tenant was in default of three months’ rent at that time. The Appellate Division agreed that the lower court “correctly concluded that [the tenant] failed to assert a meritorious defense to the summary dispossess action.” The tenant’s representative was present on both trial dates, and nothing was presented to dispute that the tenant was delinquent in its rent.

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