Articles Tagged with Nonpayment

New Jersey is one of only four states that provide for rent control. Jersey City is one of 98 municipalities that enacted local rent-control laws. While Hoboken and Bayonne recently relaxed their rent-control ordinances, Jersey City maintains one of the State’s strongest rent-control laws. Jersey City tenants should aware of the most important part of Jersey City’s rent-control laws.
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Part 1 of this series described the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants under the warranty of habitability. Marini explains that a landlord implicitly promises to provide an apartment free of latent defects and maintained in a livable condition. While tenants have a right to a regularly maintained defect free apartment, they also have an obligation to inform the landlords of any problems and allow sufficient time for those problems to be fixed. In most cases, the repairs are made and both parties are happy. If the problems continue, tenants have a number of options to consider.
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Generally, most NJ landlord-tenant matters settle before trial. A prior post explained the range of options available to tenants and landlords before “taking your chances with a judge.” While settlement is usually the best route, sometimes a trial is unavoidable. Whether the trial is for nonpayment or other “good cause” under the Anti-Eviction Act, N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1., the landlord has the burden of proving his case. New Jersey Court Rule 4:37-2(b) requires that a landlord show that the facts and the law entitle him to relief (in a landlord-tenant setting, the relief is a judgment for possession). Practically, this means that the defendant-tenant, before telling the court his side of the story, can ask the court to dismiss the landlord’s case. The type of eviction case determines what the landlord must show to avoid dismissal.
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Most of the residential eviction cases in New Jersey sound in nonpayment of rent. Often, by the time court date is scheduled the relationship between the landlord and the tenant soured. When both parties appear in landlord-tenant court, the temptation is to believe that either a) the greedy heartless landlord only wants to evict the tenant or b) the deadbeat tenant is looking for a free ride. Despite these temptations, there are three avenues of compromise that can meet both parties’ needs. Keeping these comprises in mind can help the tenant remain in the apartment and the landlord collect rent, while removing the uncertainty of a landlord-tenant trial.
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Efficient and profitable property management requires landlords to navigate the complex web of New Jersey landlord-tenant law. Often, small steps can save time and money throughout the life of leasing apartments. One such small, but important, step is commonly known as the “registration requirement.” In eviction cases, failure to comply with the registration requirement can lead to costly and time consuming delays.
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As the economy lags, tenants struggle to pay their rent on time. Landlords attempt to protect their interests through leases provisions that require late fees for late rent payments. Tenants tend to ignore late fee provisions and allow the fees to accumulate. At some point, the fees owed may equal or exceed the rent. On the surface, it appears that the tenant violated the lease and can be evicted. Like most landlord-tenant issues, the problem is not so simple.
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New Jersey landlords can find evicting a residential tenant a difficult task. In large part, the difficulty of ending a tenancy stems from New Jersey’s strongly pro-tenant “Anti-Eviction Act,” N.J.S.A. 2A: 18-61.1 (“AEA”). The stated purpose of the AEA is to limit the eviction of tenants to reasonable grounds and provide that suitable notice be given to a tenant prior to eviction. Practically speaking, landlords are generally limited to evicting tenants only on the “reasonable grounds” provided in the AEA. The AEA includes a range of eviction grounds from disorderly/damaging tenants to refusal to accept reasonable lease changes at lease end. By far, the most common ground for eviction is nonpayment of rent.

Evicting a tenant for nonpayment can quickly become a difficult task. Most landlords assume that a tenant’s failure to pay is enough to evict. Unfortunately for property owners, the law is not that simple. Under the AEA, the nonpayment must be for “rent” that is “due and owing.” Here, simple words mean more than meets the eye.
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