Since being in practice, I have had many clients, both Landlords and Tenants, and have handled a myriad of issues facing both parties. In this blog post, I will be addressing a few New Jersey Landlord Tenant Issues I think both parties need to be aware of.
First off, a Landlord in New Jersey cannot, without due process, lock out or remove a tenant from the premises for any reason whatsoever. This also applies to constructive lockouts, such as turning off a tenant’s heat, electric or water, or disallowing access to certain areas of the premise, such as basements or laundry rooms. Plainly speaking, this means a Landlord must file a Complaint for Eviction with the Court in the County where the premise is located in order to seek removal of a tenant. No matter what, a Landlord can never take the law into their own hands and lock a tenant out; the police will most certainly be called and not only will the Landlord probably be fined, but also forced to allow the Tenant back into the premise.
Second, the surest way for a tenant to be removed in New Jersey is through failure to pay rent. If a Landlord files a Complaint for Eviction based on non-payment of rent, and the court date comes and the Tenant does not have the funds to bring the rent up to date, a Landlord has NO obligation to allow a tenant to stay OR take a payment plan. While the Court can encourage the parties to come to settlement, such as a payment plan, no Landlord is required by law to accept less than the rent owed at the court date. While there are options for Tenant’s who have no money and no place to go, such as rental assistance, a Judge can only allow a Tenant a certain amount of time to stay on the premise without payment of rent, and its usually very short.
Thirdly, lease violations, such as noise complaints, unpermitted pets, failure to follow rules, do not automatically entitle a Landlord a file a complaint. Certain notices, such as notices to cease and notices to quit must be served upon a New Jersey Tenant within certain time frames before filing a complaint. Landlords should be mindful of the fact that these notices are part of the due process requirement for filing a complaint.
This is a very brief overview of New Jersey Landlord Tenant issues and should be used for information purposes only. If you are a Landlord or Tenant, and having an issue with your rental, give my office a call.