Articles Tagged with “Residential Lease”

At the end of a lease term, New Jersey tenants have rights beyond their right to reasonable changes in a proposed lease. Tenants have a right to two separate notices before a landlord can file an eviction action. A landlord’s failure to strictly observe both the content and timing of the notice requirements will result in the dismissal of the eviction action. Before evicting a tenant for refusing lease changes, the content and timing requirements must be strictly observed.
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Many New Jersey residential tenants enter into written leases with their landlords. At the end of a lease, a tenant may wish to stay in the apartment. At this point, a landlord can present a new lease that typically includes different terms. These different terms can be an increase in rent, a change of the due date, change of the grace period or a change in the living terms (for example, a pet policy). If the tenant refuses the new lease changes, a landlord may seek an eviction under Section “i” of the N.J Anti-Eviction Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1i.
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In New Jersey, tenants have a right to possession of their apartments. Generally, this means that once a tenant has a right to occupy an apartment he may do so to the exclusion of others. One fairly common violation of this right is a landlord’s interference with a tenant’s possession by way of an illegal lockout. Illegal lockouts happen for many reasons. They are used in an effort to force tenants to pay more in rent, to change the terms of a lease or otherwise affect a tenant’s behavior. Fortunately for tenants, Illegal lockouts are forms of self-help, prohibited by N.J.S.A. 2A:39-1 et seq.
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As the prior post mentioned, illegal apartments are growing problem in Northern New Jersey cities like Newark, Hoboken, and Jersey City. For starters, the relocation statute, N.J.S.A. §2A:18-61.1h states that tenants displaced because of an illegal occupancy are entitled to a payment of six times the monthly rent from the landlord. In many cases, “displaced because of an illegal occupancy” means that a landlord maintains units in n building beyond what the zone for that area provides (for example, a three family apartment building in a two family zone). An evicted tenant is then entitled to the relocation benefit under 61.1h. A common question posed by illegal apartment tenants is: Can my landlord deduct rent I owe from my relocation benefit? The problem was addressed by the New Jersey Supreme Court in the Miah v. Ahmed, 179 N.J. 511, (2004).
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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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