As a tenant or landlord in New Jersey it is highly recommended to have a NJ landlord tenant lawyer by your side to protect your interests.
Our NJ real estate attorney will be able to help you in both cases. Carolina, the principal of Curbelo Law in Ridgewood and Newark, New Jersey, has over 10 years of experience in these matters.
Experienced NJ Landlord Tenant Lawyer
Curbelo Law has provided legal guidance to hundreds of residential and commercial landlords and renters in New Jersey. Dealing with these cases is critical to providing landlords or tenants with the best possible outcome for their situation.
Attorney Carolina T. Curbelo has extensive experience in resolving disputes, either through negotiation or through lease agreements to prevent disagreements.
In addition to a well versed landlord-tenant lawyer, in NJ when settlement is impossible, Curbelo Law also has extensive litigation experience. As a NJ real estate litigation attorney Carolina will be able to defend your interests in court.
Some of the legal advice that our firm can provide are the following:
- Failure to pay rent;
- Property damage;
- Loud music and other noises.
- Eviction Notice Orders and/or Cease Notices;
- Disorderly conduct;
- Representation for residential and commercial tenants facing wrongful eviction;
- Representation of landlords in eviction actions;
- Mediation in disputes between tenants and landlords;
- Negotiation, drafting and interpretation of lease contracts;
- Other landlord and tenant matters.
Landlord-Tenant Disputes In New Jersey
Various state laws govern the relationship between landlords and tenants, from abandoned properties to eviction proceedings. It is imperative that you both clearly understand your rights and obligations regarding the rental agreements.
The firm has extensive experience in New Jersey landlord-tenant law to guide you through any process.
In NJ, the implied warranty of habitability will not apply to all types of houses:
- Single Family Homes: Only some state laws apply.
- Multi-Family Housing: All landlord-tenant laws apply.
- Clubs, sororities and fraternities: Laws will not apply.
- RV Parks: Not specifically addressed.
- Motorhome parking: Not specifically addressed.
- Hotels or motels: All laws apply.
- Condominiums: All laws apply.
Rental agreements may not include any provision where the tenant waives the right to live in a habitable residence.
Obligations And Rights Of Owners And Tenants
As a New Jersey landlord you should know how your lease qualifies as there are 2 main categories:.
- Commercial, seasonal, temporary or residential leases where the landlord is an “owner-occupant” with less than 3 rental units: These are governed by much less onerous sets of statutes for landlords. Specifically, they allow a landlord to evict a tenant without good cause.
- All Other Leases: Governed by NJ Stat. § 2A:18-61.1, also known as Eviction for Good Cause Law or the Anti-Eviction Act. Some examples of “good cause” include, but are not limited to:
- Not paying the corresponding rent;
- Causing property damage;
- Conducting criminal activities on the property;
- Violating the terms of the lease.
It is critical to determine which law applies to your specific situation because the processing requirements vary by law. The legal requirements must be strictly complied with in their entirety or the Court will not have jurisdiction for the hearing.
For reasons like these, it is important to consult with an experienced landlord tenant lawyer in NJ.
Tenants’ Rights In New Jersey
Under federal and state law, it is illegal in New Jersey for a landlord or real estate agency to refuse to rent a property to a tenant based on discrimination elements such as:
- Gender identity or expression;
- Sexual orientation;
- Civil status;
- Military status;
- HIV/AIDS status.
Lying that there are no units available for rent, being rude, or denying services to other tenants also violates fair housing laws.
Landlords are not required to rent their property to you if they can show that you cannot pay the rent or the number of individuals in your family is greater than what is allowed on the property.
Before signing any lease, you need to understand the terms and conditions of the lease. In such a contract, you must clearly specify:
- Period of time in which the property will be rented.
- Security deposit amount.
- Rent that you must pay, either to renew or terminate the lease, late fees, or legal fees for which you will be responsible.
If you break the rules of the contract, the landlord can sue you to vacate the property as soon as possible.
Tenant Protection Against Retaliation
In New Jersey, there are laws that protect tenants from retaliation by landlords. Tenants may exercise their legal rights, including:
- The right to withhold rent;
- Complain to a government agency about unsafe living conditions;
- Being able to meet and submit collective points of view.
Remember that any attempt to terminate a lease, reduce your services or suddenly increase the amount of rent is illegal.
Right Of Entry To Owners In New Jersey
The owners must notify about maintenance and visiting purposes.
- The notice must be “reasonable” for maintenance purposes.
- For visitation purposes the tenant may refuse entry unless their contract prohibits it.
- In case of emergencies, owners are not required to obtain an entry permit.
- Residents of single-family or duplex homes will not be required to allow landlords entry unless stated in the lease.
Common Problems Homeowners Face
Before moving forward with a lease, most landlords will verify the applicant and then decide whether or not to proceed. The background check and credit history is essential to know the tenant before they settle in the property.
However, these evaluations are not infallible, so it is always recommended to contact our real estate attorney Carolina Curbelo for these or other legal processes.
The most common problems that landlords may face when providing a rental to a tenant are:
- Excessively loud music and other types of noise.
- Rowdy behaviors.
- Lease violations.
- Property damage.
- Right of entry into the property.
Retaliation against tenants who request a repair that affects the habitability of their dwelling is illegal by law in New Jersey. Landlords must not terminate or refuse to renew their lease with a tenant who:
- Filed an official complaint with any of the US government authorities;
- Made a complaint;
- You exercised your legal right;
- Is part of a tenant organization.
Landlord Responsibilities In New Jersey
Although the law does not define a specific term to do maintenance, if it is not done, tenants can seek a rent reduction, make the necessary repairs themselves and reduce the costs of the following month. Let’s see some responsibilities of the owners:
- They are responsible in multi-family dwellings for:
- Provide tenants with doors and windows in good repair.
- Make sure that the walls and roof are in acceptable conditions, properly waterproofed and without leaks.
- Offer a functional HVAC system, but air conditioning is not specified.
- Ensure the proper functioning of the gas pipes.
- Provide adequate and functional plumbing, wiring, electrical lighting, and outlets.
- Provide emergency exits that can be used.
- Ensure the operation of all kitchen appliances.
- Ensure all floors are in good condition.
- Provide a suitable garbage can for garbage collection services.
- All sanitary facilities such as bathtubs, showers and toilets must be in good working order.
- They are responsible in other types of housing for:
- Provide hot and cold water service.
- Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.
- Provide a mailbox.
- They are not responsible for:
- Make sure storage areas, garages, and basements are free of combustible materials.
- Provide a wiring job for telephone jacks.
- Provide working washers and dryers.
For single-family and duplex homes, it is recommended that you consult with our NJ landlord tenant lawyer for additional requirements and responsibilities for both the landlord and tenant.
All residential leases in New Jersey must carry an implied warranty of habitability. A landlord must file a registration statement with the City Clerk.
Buildings with three or more rental units must meet standards for maintaining multiple dwellings and hotels. Additionally, rental units must be registered with the Bureau of Housing Inspection (BHI) in the Department of Community Affairs.
For more information, review our home inspection in New Jersey article.
In addition to what we saw, the owners must be responsible for:
- Pest control;
- Lead paint removal;
- Install window guards;
- Provide security locks on doors and windows;
- Sprinkler systems in tall buildings;
- Provide heat if the lease says so;
- Repairs through notification within a reasonable period of time and in some cases giving access to the owner, always with prior notification.
To know the details of these and other key points, do not hesitate to contact our landlord and tenant lawyer in NJ.
Tenant Responsibilities In New Jersey
All tenants in New Jersey have the following responsibilities to follow:
- Pay rent on time.
- Maintain the property in good safe and habitable condition.
- Maintain facilities in clean and hygienic conditions.
- Do not disturb the peace of other tenants or neighbors.
- Perform minor repairs or maintenance if necessary.
Regulations For Landlords And Tenants In New Jersey
There are certain regulations for landlords and tenants in New Jersey, said regulations are:
- Small Claims Court in New Jersey: The small claims court in NJ will hear disputes related to rent with a value of up to $3,000.
- However, the courts do not handle eviction cases and the statute of limitations on leases is up to 6 years.
- Changing locks in New Jersey: New Jersey law doesn’t specify much about changing locks, but tenants may be legally allowed to change locks themselves.
- However, it is recommended that they first obtain permission from the owner. Similarly, landlords are prohibited from unilaterally changing locks as a form of eviction.
- Required Landlord Disclosures: By law, landlords are required to disclose certain things to tenants as part of the lease. This includes: Smoking policies, local rent control rules, details about security deposits, and where a flood zone is located.
We invite you to visit our dedicated article on New Jersey flood insurance for more information regarding flooding.
There are two types of lease termination in New Jersey, they are:
- Notice requirements: If a tenant in a periodic rental agreement wishes to terminate the agreement, they must give the following notifications if the frequency of rent payment is:
- Week to week: 7 days notice required.
- Month to month: 1 month.
- Quarter by quarter: Not defined by law.
- Year to year: 3 months.
- Early Termination: Tenants in New Jersey can legally terminate a lease before the due date for the following reasons:
- Active military service;
- Early termination clause;
- Serious health problems;
- Domestic violence;
- Landlord harassment;
- The house is uninhabitable.
Landlords are not required to facilitate the re-renting process, so tenants that break a lease may be liable to pay the remainder of the lease period.
Rent Increases And Related Fees
There are certain rent increases and other related fees in New Jersey that you should be aware of:
- Rent Control: New Jersey allows local laws to mandate rent control policies. Most municipalities in New Jersey have some type of rent control policy.
- Rent Increases: Where rent control is active, landlords will be required to justify and provide at least 30 days’ notice prior to rent price increases.
- Tenants can terminate their rental agreement if they disagree.
- Rent-Related Fees: The state will not limit charges for late payment of rent, as long as they are clearly outlined in the lease.
- Landlords will also be required to charge fees if checks have been returned, but only after waiting 35 days and may only charge a fee of $100 or a fee equal to 3 times the value of the check not to exceed $500.
What Can A Tenant Do If The Rental Landlord Does Not Make Repairs?
If home repairs are not completed in a timely manner, the tenant has the following options:
- Rent withholding: The New Jersey Landlord-Tenant Law allows tenants to withhold rent if the landlord fails to make necessary repairs or seek rent abatement (a reduction in rent).
- Repair and deduct: The tenant will be able to make repairs on their own and deduct the cost of the rent in the next month. Always taking into account the reasonable term for the owner to act.
- Sue: Another legal path is to go to small claims court and ask the judge to order the landlord to pay repairs. In multi-family properties, tenants could go to superior court.
- Notify public officials: If the landlord violates any local housing code, the tenant can contact a building or health inspector.
What Is An Eviction?
An eviction is the court process in which a landlord has the legal right to remove a tenant from a rental property.
- The landlord must have good cause to evict the tenant and must provide the tenant with advance notice and necessary documentation before proceeding with the eviction.
- A landlord cannot evict a tenant without first going to court and getting a court order (eviction order). Without this order, it is illegal for a landlord to attempt to force a tenant off the site by shutting off utilities, changing the locks, or any other means of forbidding the tenant from entering the dwelling. This action is known as a “self-help eviction.”
Committing a self-help eviction carries severe penalties for the landlord. Only an authority approved by New Jersey law can remove a tenant from their property.
When Can A Tenant Be Evicted?
A landlord can evict a tenant only if they have just cause, this can be for:
- Frequent late or non-payment of rent: The landlord is not required to notify the tenant but must serve an eviction notice 30 days before filing an eviction order with the court.
- Negligence or damage to the property: In this case, the landlords can issue an eviction notice 3 days prior to the process of the same.
- Illegal acts: If the tenant engages in illegal behavior, the landlord can issue a 3-day eviction notice. This notice should only be filed if the tenant has committed:
- Destruction of property;
- Disturbance of public order;
- Illegal possession of drugs.
- Personal use or sale of rental property: If the owner wants to sell the rental property to a person who wants to buy it by intending to live in the property or the current owner wants to live in the property, they will need to issue an eviction notice 2 months prior to an eviction proceeding.
- Suspension of use of the rental property: Landlords who no longer wish to rent their property must issue an eviction notice 18 months before proceeding with it.
- Disruptive behavior: If the tenant’s misconduct interferes with the peace of other tenants, the tenant can issue a 3-day eviction notice.
- Termination of employment: If the tenant received the property through their employment and the employment has already ended, the landlord must provide a 3-day eviction notice.
- Condominium conversion: If the landlord wants to convert their rental property to a condominium, they will need to provide the tenant with a 3-year notice to vacate.
- Tenant does not approve lease changes: If a tenant does not agree to any kind of reasonable changes to the lease, the landlord can send a 1-month eviction notice.
- Housing violation: Government officials can cite a landlord for having a rental property that violates health and safety regulations. If this situation occurs, the tenant will receive a 3-month eviction notice.
- Violation of the lease: If there is a violation of the terms of the lease, the landlord must first issue a warning to the tenants. If the violation is not followed, then they can issue a 30-day eviction.
Off-Campus Evictions For College Students In New Jersey
College students living in off-campus properties in New Jersey have the same rights as other tenants with respect to evictions. Landlords must follow the same laws and procedures to evict a college student.
How Can Our NJ Landlord Tenant lawyer Help You?
Latina attorney Carolina T. Curbelo, from her office in Ridgewood, has over 10 years of extensive experience to help you deal with these types of cases.
Call us today if you have any type of problem in landlord-tenant relations or any type of real estate legal matter where you need the advice of a professional. We will be happy to represent you and achieve a successful solution to your situation.