Renter’s Rights in New Jersey: Eviction

Renter’s rights in New Jersey are incredibly important to understand for both tenants and landlords. One of the most important aspects is eviction and the causes for this action to be taken. It can have a great impact on both the tenant and landlord.

Renter’s rights in New Jersey are incredibly important to understand for both tenants and landlords. This is the last part in a series based on the Truth in Renting handbook distributed by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Here we focus on an action that can be taken if the tenant does not hold up their side of the relationship: eviction.

In this series we have covered the lease, rent, and habitability. Each one is an important pillar in the tenant-landlord relationship in New Jersey and can help to ensure protection on both sides. The last part of this series on eviction is important to understand from both sides as it can result in severe consequences for the tenant, and it is also a means for the landlord to recoup some damages that they may have incurred from the tenant not adhering to rules and regulations.

What Is an Eviction?

There are only two ways that a tenant can be removed from the landlord’s property. The first is if the tenant consents to leaving and the second is through legal action, which would be the eviction process. If eviction is granted, then a warrant for removal will be given and an officer of the court will come to assist in removing the tenant from the property. From a renter’s standpoint, it is important to try to avoid eviction as it can affect your ability to rent in the future since it will show up in a background check. From a landlord’s standpoint, it is important to know when it is the right action to take as it can be costly if it is found that it was not the right action to take. It is also important for the landlord to follow the process and not do what is called “self-help evictions,” where the landlord or someone not appointed by the court attempts to remove the tenant by changing locks or holding the tenant’s personal belongings from them. This can result in serious legal issues for the landlord.

Causes

There are multiple causes for eviction, but it is important to note that if one of them is occurring, then the landlord must give proper written notice to the tenant for them to stop the issue and give them reasonable time to correct it before proceeding with the process. Here are 10 of the major causes:

1. Failure of the tenant to pay rent.

2. Tenant continues disorderly conduct after a notice to stop.

3. Tenant causes destruction, damage, or injury.

4. Tenant continues to break rules or regulations set forth in the lease or other signed document after written notice has been given to stop.

5. Failure of the tenant to pay rent after a compliant rent increase is implemented.

6. If the landlord has received violations of code on the property and needs to either demolish, board up, or make repairs with absence of tenants, then eviction is possible with three months written notice prior.

7. If the landlord has been found to have an illegal tenancy then they must evict to correct and give three months notice. It’s important that if you are the tenant in this situation then you are owed six times the monthly rent by the landlord for relocation expenses. If the landlord does not provide it to you within five days prior to your removal, then you will receive it from the municipality, and it can result in a lien on the landlord’s property.

8. Tenant does not accept changes in the lease at the end of the rental term one month after written notice has been given.

9. Tenant habitually pays rent late.

10. If the unit is being converted either to a condominium, co-op, or back to fee simple.

It is important to know that there are more causes than this and the details behind each one vary. It is also important to understand that the length of notice is different for each cause. Some can be done immediately, while others can be notice of up to 18 months prior. As a reminder, the landlord should be making Truth in Renting accessible to you when you sign the lease, and you should thoroughly read it to make sure you are fully protected and know your rights as a tenant.

Law Violations

If eviction is occurring due to landlord wanting to personally occupy the property, then it is required the landlord makes the property their personal residence for a minimum of six months. If the property becomes occupied by another tenant prior to those six months, then it is a violation and the landlord will owe the removed tenant three times the damages suffered and any additional attorney fees or costs. Another violation would be if the property is evicted due to it having violations, causing it to no longer be usable for residential purposes and the landlord uses it as a residential space prior to five years from the vacancy date. This can result in the same payment to the former tenant but also a possible $10,000 fine for the landlord.

Know Your Rights!

Remember that as a tenant or landlord it is incredibly important to understand your rights. This is just a high level overview of the topic, and the Truth in Renting handbook should be read thoroughly by both parties before entering into an agreement. Happy renting!

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Kevin is a Realtor based in Bordentown, NJ that concentrates on Mercer County and Burlington County. He works very closely with first time home buyers to guide them through the sometimes complicated process of buying a home and makes it easy for them to understand by simplifying each step. The end result of seeing someone turn a property into their home is what makes it all worth it for Kevin.

2 Comments

  1. Karen Wagner
    April 28, 2017

    Hi Kevin

    Good article.
    Can you please provide information if the landlord wants to sell the property and does not want to renew a lease?

    Also, can landlord upfront add to lease that landlord does not intent to renew lease since he may be selling in the next year?

    Reply
    • Kevin Lawton
      May 15, 2017

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for the comment. Sorry I am responding a bit late.

      To answer your first question, the landlord can sell the property at any time during the lease but the buyer will be the new landlord and must honor the remainder of the lease. Renewal of a lease is dependent on if landlord wants to renew. If they plan to sell and do not renew then the lease will simply end on the termination date. Landlord must give notice to tenant though if tenant expresses interest in renewing.

      Landlord would not be required to put this in the lease if they intend not to renew as renewal is dependent on mutual agreement from tenant and landlord. However, it would be best practice for landlord to alert tenant to this to maintain a good relationship.

      My other post on “The Lease” may have some further information for you on this: http://blog.coldwellbanker.com/renters-rights-in-new-jersey-the-lease/

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply

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