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.
The trickiest part of evicting a tenant for refusing lease changes is the timing of the notices. There are two statutes that govern the notices to be served to tenants. The first is the Anti-Eviction Act, NJSA 2A:18-61.1(i). Section “(i)” provides a good cause ground for eviction based on the tenant’s refusal of reasonable lease changes. In relevant part, Section “(i) allows for eviction when:
“The landlord or owner proposes, at the termination of a lease, reasonable changes of substance in the terms and conditions of the lease, including specifically any change in the term thereof, which the tenant, after written notice thereof, refuses to accept.”
Section “(i)” requires the landlord to provide written notice of the intent to evict for refusing lease changes before the “good cause” for eviction accrues. Once the landlord provides this notice, and the tenant refuses that triggers the notice requirement of the second statute, NJSA 2A:18-61.2(e).
The notice requirement of the corresponding statute, 61.2(e), requires:
No judgment of possession shall be entered for any premises covered by section 2 of this act [2A:18-61.1], except in non-payment of rent under paragraph a. or f. of section 2, unless the landlord has made written demand and given written notice for delivery of possession of the premises. The following notice shall be required:
e. For an action alleging refusal of acceptance of reasonable lease changes under paragraph i of section 2, one month’s notice prior to institution of the action. . .
Here, Section 61.2(e) requires another full month’s notice before an eviction action can be filed. The effect of Section “(i)” and Section 61.2(e) together is to require the landlord to wait three full months before filing an eviction action.
Judge Fast analyzed the interplay between the two notice statutes in Lowenstein v. Murray, 229 N.J. Super. 616. Judge Fast arrived at three full months notice before filing an eviction action by noting that each notice must provide one full month. Practically, the notices play out like this: One full month to under Section “(i)” (note also, that one full month means one full calendar month, i.e. the first day to the last day). Then another full month notice under 61.2(e). But, since the notices cannot overlap and each must provide a full month, the second notice cannot be “effective” until the first day of the next full month. Only then can a landlord file an eviction action.
A final note about the content of the notices: The Section “(i)” notice must specifically state the refusal to accept reasonable lease changes. Since landlord tenant actions are summary proceedings, the factual allegations to be relied upon at trial must be established in the notice. Failing to do so can expose the case to dismissal.
Since the facts of each circumstance vary, a landlord or tenant should consult an attorney with his/her specific circumstances. Offit Kurman practices landlord tenant law throughout New York and New Jersey assisting tenants in avoiding unnecessary and costly delays. The firm’s geographic practice area includes: New York City (Manhattan, New York County, Brooklyn, Kings County, Queens, Queens County, Bronx County, Staten Island, Richmond County) and New Jersey (Jersey City, Hoboken, Bayonne, Hudson County, Newark, Essex County, Woodbridge, Middlesex County, Paterson, Passaic County). The Firm invites you to visit the “Promises” page for our new way of doing business. Contact us today for a guaranteed free initial consultation