NJ governor signs executive order allowing renters to use security deposits to offset rent because of COVID-19 crisis

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Friday that allows renters to direct their landlords to use their security deposits to offset rent or back rent. 

“We recognize the anxiety that so many are feeling about looming rent payments, and during this emergency, renters should have the ability to utilize their security deposit to help them stay in their place of residence,” Murphy said. “While this action does not resolve the broader financial concerns of New Jerseyans, this will provide critical short-term support as the first of the month approaches. My administration will continue working with the housing community and federal government to develop long-term solutions to this crisis.”

Murphy’s executive order waives provisions of statutory law in New Jersey that prohibit the use of security deposits for rental payments, enabling tenants to instruct landlords to use their security deposits to offset rent or back rent. Tenants will not be obligated to make any further security deposit relating to their current lease agreement, but would still be responsible for any costs landlords face that would have been reimbursable via the security deposit such as property damages.  If the tenant and landlord extend or renew the lease, then the tenant would be obligated to replenish the security deposit in full either six months following the end of the public health emergency or on the date on which the current lease agreement is extended or renewed, whichever is later.  

The order took effect on Friday and will be in place until 60 days after the public health emergency ends.

Murphy also announced that the Department of Community Affairs has established a rental housing information page for tenants and landlords seeking information about their rights during the public health emergency. 

An information page also has been added to the State’s COVID-19 website for homeowners interested in taking advantage of the previously announced mortgage forbearance agreement with private lenders. Homeowners with questions or concerns related to conditions of an agreement with their mortgage lender will be directed to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance’s intake form for further assistance.

Murphy also made it clear that mortgage lenders must add the 90-day forbearance payments to the end of the mortgage term, and extend the term for three months.

“Landlords can’t evict tenants, and no one should fear losing a home, period,” Murphy said in his press briefing on Saturday.

The rental housing information page and question form can be found at: https://covid19.nj.gov/renter.

For more information on COVID-19-related mortgage forbearance, visit covid19.nj.gov/mortgage.


  1. I applaud Gov. Murphy for helping out everyone with economic need right now. As a landlord, he should have protected landlords more against possible damage to their property. One reason rent in NJ is so high is that landlords are very exposed to damage caused by tenants to their property. It’s too easy to find that a tenant leaves one’s rental with damage that far exceeds the damage. And if they move out-of-town or out-of-state, it is next to impossible to recover damages. It’s a reason why the tenant/landlord relationship can be very tense.

  2. I am encouraged that the Governor will also be pushing to let landlords defer or discount the property taxes they owe by the amount they defer or discount rents due. Seems fair, yes?

  3. Since many tenants will not be able to pay their rent, landlords will see a subsequent loss in tents collected because most security deposits are equal to one month’s rent or at best 1 1\2 month’s rent. I had the bad luck of having to replace 2 not water heaters and 1 boiler repair this month. I am self employed and have been denied any unemployment benefits from the state. It seems only fair since we are all having to sacrifice and tighten our belts that not only should our property taxes be revered for 1 month as proposed by the Governor, but they should be reduced or even forgiven for this last quarter. All of our other fixed costs are having to be paid with no relief.

  4. This is silly. We use our securities to pay last month before we move anyway. We need total freezes and or at least 50% coverage from the state. My landlord doesn’t have to pay their mortgage right now and it’s getting tagged to the tail end of their final payments, but are they at least reducing our rent? No!! Why should we still have to pay rent right now while we’re struggling!?!?

  5. My husband and I worked hard all of our lives, instead of investing in the stock market we invested in real estate. We have numerous apartments that are constantly kept up and are in great condition and always upgraded.We paid our April 15 income taxes so we wouldn’t have to worry about it at a later date and now this is what we get from our governor, who in my opinion is trying to purposely cripple our economy for political purposes. I would like to know who is going to pay my mortgages and my bills as a landlord, because both me and my husband are retired. It is my opinion, that the governor is trying to create a nanny state and create more votes for the Democratic Party and liberals. I hope in the next election they are all voted out. The governor has violated our bill of rights and our constitution and I call on all NJ residents to recall or impeach him! After all, he himself said that this is above his pay grade. Please be aware, that we are working with our tenants and trying to help them out as much as we can, But remember there are always people that are willing to take advantage of the situation.

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