Overview of new Jersey Tenant Landlord Laws

Wherever landlords rent to tenants disputes are likely to occur, although it doesn’t always happen. No matter which side someone is on, knowing landlord-tenant laws beforehand helps if disputes arise. While landlord-tenant clashes are sometimes solved cordially, that is not always the case.

In New Jersey, landlord-tenant disputes are solved in what’s known as the Landlord/Tenant Section of the New Jersey Superior Court, Special Civil Part, of which there are three sections. In these cases, having a lawyer helps. Although some people cannot afford lawyers; they are provided one free of charge through Legal Aid Services.

Landlords evict tenants for many reasons. The most common is non-payment of rent. Tenants may be evicted if they pay rent late continually. Several of the reasons are due to tenants’ behavior. Tenants with drug offense convictions, or who cause willful destruction to the property, and continue behaving in a disorderly fashion may also be evicted. Another reason for evictions relate to tenants’ disregard of leases’ rules and regulations.

New Jersey eviction laws are governed by Sections 2A:18-53 to 2A:18:84. These sections specify landlord-tenant laws. Each section deals with a different issue regarding eviction. For example, Section 2A:18-53 c (1) and (2) relate to continued excessive noise and obstinate destruction of property. In this instance, a landlord my serve tenants with a three-day notice to stop the behavior. Notices may be delivered by hand, taped to the door of the residence, or in a prominent place where it will be seen by tenants. Hand-delivered notices must be delivered to tenants fourteen years of age or older. Both methods are legal. If the behavior does not stop, then landlords may take further steps towards evicting tenants.

Landlords must also provide tenants with forms telling eviction reasons in cases of property reconstruction, health code violations, acquisition by public property corporations or other reasons in which eviction has nothing to do with tenants’ behavior. For example, cases of black mold, toxic to residents, are valid reasons for property owners to evict tenants. In this case, laws protect tenants, since they may be eligible for relocation assistance. These are the forms used in this case.

While the process takes time, it is a solution for tenants who find they face eviction for reasons that are not their fault. The codes covering this kind of eviction are N.J.A.C. 5:11-7.1 through 5:11-7.5.

Before readers think that sole responsibility is placed on tenants to comply with landlords, New Jersey provides laws protecting tenants who live in multi-tenant dwellings. Codes covering these types of housing are listed in N.J.S.A. 55:13A-1 et seq. These codes were created so that landlords maintain the buildings up to code for the health, welfare, and safety of tenants. The state of New Jersey sends inspectors to multi-dwelling properties at regular intervals. Landlords must comply with state regulations.

Moreover, tenants are protected by a large number of state regulations just as landlords are against occupants’ disregard and destruction. They are written in a 109 page booklet called Tenants’ Rights in New Jersey. The booklet is published by Legal Services of New Jersey. http://www.lsnj.org/PDFs/TenantsRightsLSNJorg.pdf

Now, if evictions come to court appearances because of tenants’ behavior or destruction, New Jersey has specific guidelines for these procedures. After notices have been given to tenants, landlords must file complaints with the Special Civil Part Clerk in the rental residences’ county. For example, if the residence is in Caldwell, the county is Essex and the county seat is in Newark.

Information required by the court for landlord and lessee are names, addresses, and phone numbers. Additionally, landlords must tell courts what kind of they hold, whether it is individual, sole, partnership, or corporation. The filing fee is $25, with an additional charge of $2 each for additional defendants. Court charges add mileage fees for Court officers’ complaint deliveries. Staff of the staff of the Special Civil part informs those filing the complaint of the mileage charges.

Before the court dates, both landlords and tenants should accumulate as much information regarding complaint and eviction cases as possible. Evidence includes rent and other receipts, photos of the property before and during tenancy, repair bill estimates, repair receipts, cancelled or dishonored checks, and any other evidence proving cases for either side. Judgments in favor of tenants mean the dismissal of cases. However, judgments for possession favor the landlord, where a three day pay or quit notice is given to the tenant. Landlords may have tenants locked out of their residences if tenants do not vacate properties within three days. Agreements between landlords and tenants for storage of their possessions can be made, but landlords may file warrants for possession if tenants’ belongings are not picked up from storage within thirty days after the eviction.

Landlord-tenant laws are complicated. Yet, laws protect both sides. Sometimes it is a matter of what tenants are doing to jeopardize their residency in a place they rent. Other times, landlords have valid reasons for evicting tenants, reasons that may be beyond the control of either renters or property-owners. Renters also have rights, so that they are not completely powerless if they are evicted for reasons that may not be valid. Whichever side of disputes someone is on, it pays to familiarize themselves with New Jersey state laws for landlord-tenants before issues arise.