Most landlords have an attorney that they have used in the past, sometimes for years. On one level I do not question the ability of these attorneys to practice law. On the other hand, given the technical nature of New Jersey’s landlord-tenant laws, specialization in the field is required to be effective. A recent example of this was a matter heard by New Jersey’s mid-level appellate court, the Appellate Division.
In Avalon Bay Communities Inc. v. Sare, recently decided, the landlord wanted to make reasonable changes to the tenant’s lease. The landlord wanted a year-to-year agreement as opposed to a month-to-month, and wanted a rent increase. Avalon Bay’s attorneys tried and failed three times to get the change done.
They went to court three times to try to evict a tenant because he did not agree with the changes the landlord proposed. He wanted to stay as a month-to-month tenant and he wanted to continue paying the same rent. The court denied the eviction because the landlord, through its attorneys, did not serve the appropriate notice.
As a result of these failures, the tenant tried to get sanctions against the landlord for bringing a frivolous lawsuit for each failed action. The landlord was forced to spend additional money in order to fend off the claims.
In the third failed eviction action, the tenant again brought a motion for sanctions. In its decision, the court even noted that eventually, once the law firm got its act together and sent the appropriate notices, the landlord would succeed in either getting the lease and rent it sought or getting the tenant evicted. The trial court denied the tenants motion a third time. After the third loss on his motion for sanctions, the tenant decided to appeal the denial.
The Appellate Division agreed with the trial court. However, the landlord was still forced to respond to the appeal and expend the cost of having a brief prepared, its attorneys time in preparing for the appeal, and for the attorneys to appear for oral argument. This cost ran into the thousands of dollars. The landlord had to not only absorb that cost, but the costs of the three failed trial court appearances, defending the three trial court motions, and the assorted costs in the paperwork required to bring the three failed eviction actions. This added an additional few thousand dollars.
The cost of inadequate representation is more than just money. It’s time, effort, and energy. When you need to have a tenant removed or a lease changed, a landlord needs to be sure that the case is properly evaluated and handled. The failure to properly evaluate and handle an action is a waste to all concerned. It gives a tenant a false sense that the landlord does not know what he is doing and that he can get away with whatever he wants.
The ideal is to have the tenant think that the landlord and its counsel is competent, aware, and active. That is a deterrent to the tenant attempting to violate its lease and run roughshod over the landlord and his interests. You need competent counsel. My law firm will provide you with competent, effective, and efficient representation. You can rest assured that your file will be properly analyzed and appropriate actions taken.
Let your heart not be troubled, for your landlord-tenant problems use Matthew R Schutz, Esq.