My tenant violated the lease. What can I do?
New Jersey law requires that you give the tenant certain notices. If the tenant does not stop violating the lease, you can file for eviction. New Jersey law is very specific as to what type of notices you need to give and when you need to give them. This is NOT the time for procrastination. Sometimes a simple problem can be resolved just by discussing it with a skilled attorney. Some landlords get themselves into situations they cannot terminate. Call our office for a free consultation (908) 391-5399 or send us an email message Click the link.
Do I need to issue a lease for my new tenant?
Unless you have a lease in place, New Jersey law has certain default provisions. The rental will be on a month to month basis, you will be responsible for all services and the tenant can choose whether or not he can smoke in the premises. The tenant can also have pets at his discretion, and you have no mechanism to impose rules that you may like. The lease can also be your vehicle for several required notices under New Jersey law.
What happens at the end of the lease?
If the lease is not renewed at the end of the rental period, it turns into a month-to-month lease under the same terms and conditions. At the end of the lease the landlord may make reasonable changes in the lease terms including rents and rules. The landlord has to make these changes in compliance with New Jersey law or they will be ineffective.
Can I conduct background checks?
Yes. You should have people fill out an application. Indicate that you are going to be checking the background of the prospective tenants. The application should also indicate that by signing the application, people consent to having their background checked. You may charge a fee in order to get a background check for the tenant.
Do I have to accept a service animal?
The short answer is: yes. As opposed to pets, the landlord has to accept service animals. The landlord can require the tenant to prove that they need a service animal and that the animal in question is certified for service. This is typically done through doctor’s notes and a certificate from the school where the animal was trained.
I have a new tenant. What should I do with the security deposit?
Security deposits for residential tenancies in New Jersey are required to be placed in a separate bank account. You are allowed to use other financial institutions. The landlord is required to notify the tenant of the location and the amount of interest being earned within 30 days.
Can I evict or simply remove a tenant at the end of the lease?
The short answer is: no. New Jersey law grants a tenant the right to continue living in the premises on a month-to-month basis under the same terms and conditions, unless the tenant has violated the lease or one of the provisions of the Anti-Eviction Act. If the landlord seeks to remove a tenant at the end of the lease, a careful review of the file must be conducted to see if there is a valid reason to remove the tenant.
What criteria can I use to select tenants?
You can ask about income, employment history, past rental history, assets, get references both family and personal and criminal history.
What criteria can’t I use?
New Jersey’s law against discrimination forbids a landlord to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, disability, and legal source of income.
Can a tenant deduct or withhold rent because of habitability problems?
Yes, however the tenant has to give the landlord appropriate notice of the problems and the opportunity to fix them. If the tenant does not do that, they do not have a basis for a habitability claim.
Can habitability be used by the tenant as a defense in an eviction?
Yes, assuming the tenant has done everything he needs to do – informed the landlord about the habitability problem and gave the landlord time to fix it.
Are there any reporting requirements during the term of the lease?
Yes. The landlord is required to give an annual statement of the amount of interest earned by the security account. The interest must be credited to the tenant. The landlord can do this either as a credit to the rent or by issuing a check to the tenant.
What do I do with the security deposit at the end of the tenancy?
New Jersey law requires that the landlord issues a statement that includes:
- security deposit amount
- interest earned
- itemized list of deductions from the security deposit
- check for any funds due to the tenant (if applicable) no later than 30 days after the end of the tenancy
Can a landlord be forced to pay a relocation allowance?
The landlord can be forced to pay a six month relocation allowance if the unit violates the construction code or zoning. There are other not so obvious reasons the landlord will be required to pay for relocation.
My tenant owes me thousands of dollars. What can I do?
You may wish to consider suing the tenant for damages. A decision on this matter depends on several factors. Can you find the tenant? Does the tenant have a job or assets with which you can enforce the judgment? What is your documentation of the damages? These questions are best evaluated by skilled counsel. Call our office (908) 391-5399 to evaluate any potential collection action at no charge.
What is the Anti-Eviction Act?
The Anti-Eviction Act provides protection to residential tenants in New Jersey. The Anti-Eviction Act specifically outlines the grounds on which one can base an eviction.
There are 17 grounds for eviction. The major grounds are:
- Failure to Pay Rent
- Disorderly Conduct
- Damage or Destruction to the Property
- Substantial Violation or Breach of the Landlord’s Rules and Regulations
- Failure to Pay Rent Increase
- Removal of the unit from the Rental Market
Evicting a tenant is a serious matter. Landlords run into a lot of problems while deciding to evict a tenant. Call our office for a free consultation (908) 391-5399