The New Jersey landlord and tenant laws were enacted in an endeavor to promote healthy relationship between the two parties. If you are a landlord or a tenant, it helps you if you are aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. Knowledge is power. Here is a brief overview of the New Jersey tenant and landlord laws.
As per the New Jersey landlord and tenant laws, the landlord cannot refuse to rent the property to a tenant just because the person would be paying rent with rental assistance (like Section 8). It is considered as discrimination and is illegal. If you are a tenant, before you move in to a rental property, it is advisable to make sure that the property has received a certificate of occupancy (CO) from the town housing inspector.
Before occupying the property, if the property needs repair, ask the landlord to conduct repairs immediately. It is advisable to get the landlord to put whatever he/she promises to repair in writing (with date and signature). This is very important and protects you from possible false allegations in the future.
The New Jersey landlord and tenant laws allow the landlord to collect a security deposit. The landlord may use the amount as a protection against damage to the property or non payment of rent. The landlord may also ask you to pay the first month’s rent before you occupy the property.
The terms and conditions related to the security deposit (the amount, where it would be deposited, reasons for deduction and how it would be returned) have to be clearly mentioned in the rental agreement. The landlord cannot use the money in the security deposit for carrying out repairs or for rent due while the tenant is still residing in the property.
As per the law, the security deposit should not be more than one and a half times the monthly rent. Insist on a receipt from the landlord for the amount. The receipt should have the amount, date and the landlord’s signature. The landlord must return the security deposit (after due adjustments) within 30 days after you move out.
The tenant is responsible for prompt payment of rent and for keeping the property clean. He/she is responsible for any significant damage to the property caused during his/her occupancy. The activities of the tenant should not cause disturbance to either the landlord or the other tenants.
The law allows the landlord to enter the rental property for inspection purposes or for conducting repairs at any reasonable time during the day. The landlord should give one day’s notice to the tenant. It should contain the reason. However, notice is not required in case of emergencies.
As per the law, the landlord cannot increase your rent during your lease. The tenant or the landlord may end the lease by giving one month’s written notice. In the state of New Jersey, a tenant can be evicted only by a supreme court order. Any other way is considered illegal.
If you are a tenant, it is advisable to read the rental agreement carefully before signing. If you feel that you need to consult a lawyer and need free legal assistance (if you are qualified), you may contact the Legal Services Program in your area. You also have the right to appear in the court pro se (represent yourself). The legal system ensures that you get a fair treatment.