As a pro bono attorney handling tenant-rights cases for a prestigious law firm in Newark, Abdul Rehman Khan SAS’14, RLAW’17 witnessed many evictions, but one in 2019 was exceptionally egregious. “An elderly woman was illegally locked out because her rent hadn’t been processed, even though we had proof she’d sent it—and paid on time for decades,” he recalls. “And the medication she needed was inside her apartment.”
The woman could have called the police: the first recourse in an eviction not approved by a special court officer. But even if she had, the police might not have stepped in. Until recently, many New Jersey police departments weren’t aware they have jurisdiction over evictions. Khan and multiple colleagues appealed to the state’s attorney general, who issued a directive: If an eviction is illegal, as it was in this case, the police “are required to allow that tenant to enter their home,” Khan says.
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