I have a tenant who has missed paying rent for three months now (April, November and now December).
Can't imagine why any landlord would wait 3 to 4 months before starting eviction for non-payment unless, of course, they are clueless amateurs.
I live on the west coast, so going down to personally meet him is a bit hard...
Then I suggest you give serious thought to unloading the property as fast as you can after you get out from under this tenant. Being an absentee landlord located across the country is absolutely the worst way of owning a rental property and is virtually guaranteed to prove quite costly, especially if you let late rent slide for several months.
Can that be done as soon as the judgement for possession is received or can that be done even prior to that ?
There's actually two questions in there.
1 - An action for possession and an action for back rent are two different things. Some states allow both to be filed as part of the same action. Others. require a subsequent action for rent once you have successfully evicted the tenant and regained possession. Your lawyer can tell you how that works in NJ. Once you get a writ of possession there might still be a bit of a time lag until the sheriff puts the tenant out.
2 - When you get a judgment for back rent, you have to wait for the appeal period to expire before you can start collection procedures. That's often 30 days in most places. Your lawyer can tell you how long it is in NJ.
How does the civil action to recover back rent work?
It doesn't. You do. All a judgment does is allow you to collect. It doesn't do it for you. The two main options open to you are wage garnishment and bank account levy. For either or both you have to file papers with the court that have to be served on the employer or bank and there are some time delays with each.
If he does not show up will the judge enter defualt judgement there as well?
What if the judge finds for me, but he refuses to pay or does not respond ?
Then you have the unfortunate task of engaging in collection procedures which involve more court filings and fees. The downside is that the tenant could be a deadbeat with no money or could file bankruptcy and you never see a nickel.
Again, you're supposed to figure out all this stuff before you chose to be a landlord. Failing to do so can result in disastrous financial consequences.