New Jersey residents are increasingly falling behind on their rent payments.

With economic pressures mounting amidst four-decade-high inflation, nearly one-in-four state residents admit they are behind in their rent.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the website computed that 24% of New Jerseyans are "not caught up on rent payments."

Only Alabama (25%) and South Dakota (26%) had higher percentages. The nationwide average was 15%.

Among age groups, those between 40 to 54 had the most difficulty keeping up with rent.

While these are the latest figures available, the actual numbers of those struggling to keep up with rent payments could be much higher.

New Jersey rents among the highest

New Jersey remains among the nation's most expensive places to rent a home although it became slightly more affordable over the past year, according to the latest version of a yearly report that doesn't accurately capture the recent soaring rents.

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Fair market rent in New Jersey is $1,628 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to the Out of Reach report for 2022 from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That's down from $1,662 in the same group's report for 2021.

Somebody who makes the state's $13 minimum wage would have to work 96 hours a week to afford such an apartment and keep their spending on rent and utilities to 30% of their income. That's down from 107 hours a week one year earlier when the minimum wage in the state was $12 an hour.

New Jersey ranks as the seventh most expensive, down a spot from 2021. The most expensive states are Hawaii and California, followed by Massachusetts, New York, the District of Columbia, and Washington state. New Jersey is one penny cheaper than Washington, coming in at $31.32 an hour.

The state ended a two-year moratorium on evictions earlier this year as pandemic restrictions were lifted, and landlords filed more than 40,000 eviction cases with the courts.

A number of rental assistance programs are still in place, particularly for low-income tenants.

Help is available

All renter households with incomes below 120% of their county's Area Median Income are permanently protected against eviction or removal at any time for nonpayment of rent, habitual late payment of rent, or failure to accept a rent increase that accrued from March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2021.

Low- and moderate-income households who have applied for state or local rental assistance, and who have experienced an economic impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic are also protected from eviction for unpaid rent accrued through December 31, 2021.

These protections are not affected by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision regarding the CDC's eviction moratorium.

For the special New Jersey eviction protections to take effect, you must provide the required self-certification form to your landlord, and if there is a pending action against you, to the courts.

You can access the self-certification form here.

Previous reporting from Michael Symons was included in this article.

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