An Epic List Of Tenant Landlord Laws, New Jersey

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 27 May 2014 19:50

This article goes through some of the landlord-tenant laws in New Jersey.  Landlord/Tenant laws are always changing so please do your own due diligence when applying the laws to your situation.  This guide is only meant to point you in the right direction and give you a starting point in order to find the answers you desire.

Security Deposit:

Security Deposit Maximum: Lanlords may charge up to one and one-half month's rent.  Any additional security deposit collected on an annual basis may not exceed ten percent of the current security deposit.  (N.J.S.A. 46:8-21.2)

Restriction on Deposit. The Rent Security Deposit Act applies to all rental units, including tenant-occupied, single-family homes. The only exception is for rental units in owner-occupied buildings that have no more than two units other than the owner-landlord’s unit. However, the law does apply even to tenants in these small, owner-occupied buildings if the tenant sends a 30-day written notice to the landlord stating that he or she wants the landlord to comply with the law’s provisions. (N.J.S.A. 46:8-19)

Security Deposit Interest.

a) Landlords who rent 10 or more apartments.  Must place the security deposits in either an insured money market fund or a federally insured bank account. (N.J.S.A 46:8-19(a))

b) Landlords who rent fewer then 10 apartments.  Security deposits must be placed in bank accounts that pay at least the regular rate of interest ( N.J.S.A. 46:8-19(b))

c) Interest earned on the deposit must either be paid to your tenant in cash every year or subtracted from the amount of rent paid by your tenant or on the renewal of the lease or January 31st each year. (N.J.S.A. 46:8-19(c))

Separate Security Deposit Bank Account.  The security deposit shall be placed in a separate account as to not be mixed in with the landlords personal money.  (N.J.S.A. 46:8-19(a).)

Administrative and Service Fees. Landlords are no longer allowed to take administrative expenses from security deposit money.  (P.L. 2003, c. 188)

Pet Deposits and Additional Fees.  A pet deposit is allowed under new jersey truth and renting as long as the total deposit does not exceed one and one-half months rent.

Deadline for Returning Security Deposit.  The Landlord as up to 30 days from the date the tenant has moved out to return the security deposit and interest less any damages. (N.J.S.A. 46:8-21.1)

Itemized List of Damages and Charges.  If the landlord deducts any amounts for damages or rent, he or she must give you a complete list of the damages he or she claims you did to the property and the cost of repairs. The landlord must send you the list of damages by registered or certified mail, and the landlord must return to you any money left over from your security deposit. (N.J.S.A. 46:8-21.1)

Receipt of Deposit. There are four separate instances when a landlord must notify the tenant in writing regarding their security deposit

  1. Within 30 days of receiving the security deposit- Landlords are allowed to include this notice as part of the lease agreement. If the security deposit terms are included in a security deposit lease clause, no additional written notice is necessary.
  2. Within 30 days of moving the security deposit to a different bank or money market fund.
  3. Once a year coinciding with the annual interest payment.
  4. Within 30 days of transferring ownership of the property.

Failure to Comply.  If a landlord fails to comply with any of the Truth-In-Renting laws the landlord could be fined a minimum of $200 or be sent to jail for a maximum of 30 days. (N.J.S.A.46:8-25)

Lease, Rent & Fees:

Rent is Due  The rent is due on the date that is specified in the lease or rental agreement.  Landlords may start accessing a late fee immediately. However if the tenant is a part of a federal program such as social security they are entitled to a five day grace period.

Rent Increase Notice.  Before a landlord can increase rent they must provide a notice to quit in addition to the notice to increase the rent.  In this case the notice to quit does not require the tenant to vacate the property.  These notices must be presented to the tenant a minimum of 30 days before the rent increase if on a month-to-month lease.  Otherwise the rent increase can only occur on a lease renewal.

Rent Grace Period.  Five day grace period for payment of rent applies to senior citizens and recipients of certain governmental benefits.  A tenant who frequently pays within the 5 day grace period is not calculated in determining whether a rent payment is habitually late. (N.J.S.A. 2A:42-6.1 through 6.3)

Late Fees.  There are no limits on the amount that can be charged for a late fee.  However late fees of more then 5% will most likely not be allowed by the court unless proven to be reasonable.

Prepaid Rent. Any funds held to secure future rents are considered security deposit.  This includes the last month's rent.  It does not matter what the prepaid funds are labeled.

Bounced Check Fees.  A provision should be made in the lease agreement to as an additional charge to the late fee.

Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (water, heat, etc). If there are defects in the vital facilities and the landlord has not fixed them after receiving proper and timely notice from the tenant, the tenant may either seek a decrease in rent by court action or simply withhold rent. A landlord may bring an eviction action for nonpayment of rent (114 N.J.Super.124, (1971))

Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent. a tenant must first notify the landlord of the situation and allow a reasonable amount of time for the landlord to make repairs or replacements. If a landlord fails to take action, a tenant may have the repairs made and deduct the cost from future rents. However, a landlord may take a tenant to court for nonpayment of rent.  (63 NJ 460 (1973))

Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees.The written lease must expressly permit a landlord to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees and include late fees as a part of rent in order for a judge to consider those expenses as additional rent in a summary dispossess proceeding (155 NJ 212(1998))


Notices and Entry:

Notice of Non-Renewal - Lease with a fixed term. Most yearly leases require a 60 to 90 day notice from the tenants in order to terminate the lease. Tenants who have a written lease agreement must give written notice to terminate the lease in accordance with their lease agreement.

Notice of Non-Renewal - Month-to-Month Lease. A month-to-month tenant must give written notice of lease termination at least one full month prior to moving.

Notice of Termination for Non-Payment.  If a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord may immediately take legal action to have the tenant evicted. The landlord is not required to give the tenant notice before filing an eviction suit, except if the tenant resides in federally subsidized housing. If the tenant resides in federally subsidized housing a 14-day notice must be given before filing a suit for eviction.

Termination for Lease Violation. In New Jersey, landlords must have a just cause to terminate a tenancy, and must provide at least one month’s notice and specify the date on which your tenancy will end.   However if the tenant did no pay rent or other terms of the rental agreement the landlord can provide less then the thirty days  notice.

Unconditional Quit Termination.  Under New Jersey law, N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2A:18-53(c), 2A:19-61.1, 
2A:18-61.2(a), a landloard must give the tenant 3 days to move out of the rental unit before they file for eviction.  Alternatively a tenant will get one month to move out if they are guilty of such things as habitual failure to pay rent after written notice, continued violations of reasonable rules despite warnings, etc.. (N.J. Stat. Ann. §§  2A:18-61.2(b), 2A:18-61.1)

Required Notice before Entry for Any Reason.  In general a landlord does not have the right to enter the residential rental premises without consent of the tenant or a judgment from the Superior Court of New Jersey. Even if given legal authority to enter the rental premises, the landlord may only enter in a peaceable manner. The landlord may not use force or violence or the threat of force or violence to gain entry to the premises. (N.J.S.A. 2:A:39-1)

Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice.  A landlord may enter the premises without notice provided that notice is impractical.  Such cases include emergencies where a condition exists that pose an immediate threat to the safety or health of persons using or near the premises.  Also where access to any premises has been denied and inspection is desired to implement the policy of the Bureau of Housing Inspection. (N.J.A.C. 5:10-1.1)

Entry Allowed During Tenant's Extended Absence.  A landlord may only enter the premises if he has reason to believe the tenants have vacated the property.

Lockouts Allowed.  Lockouts are illegal in New Jersey.  Only a judge can order a legal eviction.

Utility Shut-offs Allowed.  If the landlord is shutting off the utilities in an effort to get the tenants to move out this is illegal in New Jersey.  Only a judge can order a legal eviction.


Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

Refusal to surrender possession; double rent.  If a tenant does not move out of the property after the end of the lease or notice to quit, the penalty will be double the rent for as many months as the tenant remains in possession of the property (N.J.S.A. 2A:42-5 and 2A:42-6).

Copy of the Lease.  It is the responsibility of the tenant to request and keep a copy of the lease agreement.

Domestic Violence Situations.  A victim of domestic violence may end a lease by giving 30 day notice.  The notice must tell the landlord the type of domestic violence that has occurred ( N.J.S.A 46:8-9.4).

Retaliation.  It is illegal for a landlord to retailiate against a tenant for complaints to a building inspector, fire department, health inspector or other governmental agency.  The kinds of retaliatory acts covered by New Jersey law include terminating a tenancy or filing an eviction lawsuit; increasing the rent; or decreasing services, such as locking the laundry room.

Court Related:

Small Claims Court Limit in New Jersey. Small Claims handles cases in which the demand is not more than $3,000 or $5,000 if the demand is for the return of a tenant's security deposit.  (Small Claims FAQ)

Eviction Cases allowed in Small Claims Court?  No

Small Claims Court Location.  Small claims complaints are filed in the county where at least one defendant lives or where the defendant's business is located.

Business Licenses:

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