What are the New Jersey Landlord Tenant Laws?
Manalapan Real Estate Attorney Explains Requirements for Leased Property
Leasing and renting a property, whether you are the landlord or the tenant, is often a complex legal process, especially if it is commercial real estate. New Jersey landlord tenant laws concern matters such as what information landlords must disclose to tenants as well as a tenant’s rights in terms of rent and fees. A landlord’s right to evict, collect past due rent and take other actions are also included. These requirements are important not only during a landlord tenant dispute but also during the entire leasing process. For this reason, if you are considering leasing a residential or commercial property, contact a real estate attorney to ensure you know your rights.
Attorney Gary L. Mason, partner at Garland & Mason, L.L.C., handles both commercial and residential real estate issues throughout New Jersey. Our law firm also has a full time real estate paralegal who has a title license and years of experience in all facets of real estate law. We can assist you in crafting or reviewing a lease agreement, and can stand up for your rights in court if necessary.
What Must Landlords Disclose to Tenants in New Jersey?
When you lease a commercial or residential property, the landlord is required to disclose certain information which may not be apparent from an initial visit or walkthrough, but which could affect your decision to lease the space. For example, federal law requires landlords to tell prospective tenants if there are any known lead paint risks associated with the property. While this is the only federal landlord disclosure obligation, New Jersey law has several additional requirements, including:
- Flood zone disclosure. A landlord must typically tell a prospective tenant if the property is in an area prone to flooding.
- Rights and Responsibilities. According to New Jersey law, all landlords must provide tenants with a copy of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants from the Department of Community Affairs.
- Disclosure of available window guards for children. Landlords who lease multi-family residential properties must inform those who have children aged 10 or younger that they have the right to window guards for all windows over six feet off the ground. If requested, the landlord must install these window guards in the leased area as well as hallways.
Most of these requirements apply to properties of more than two units. Additionally, individual townships and cities have additional landlord disclosure regulations. For example, in New Brunswick, landlords must give tenants a copy of the property’s registration by the New Jersey Bureau of Housing Inspection. Many other New Jersey areas have rent control laws, which typically must also be disclosed to tenants. For the most accurate information about landlord disclosure requirements in your area, contact a real estate attorney.
Do New Jersey Landlord Tenant Laws Apply to Rent?
Although New Jersey has no statewide rent control laws, it does regulate certain aspects of rental agreements. The following is a list of potential laws that may apply to your situation. As every situation is different, these might not apply to your rental property or lease. To understand what laws apply to you specifically, meet with a real estate attorney. There may be special requirements for rent controlled properties as well as additional local laws. You may also face additional complications if you are leasing commercial real estate—most of the following is for residential property.
- Security deposit. By state law, a security deposit can only be one and a half times the tenant’s monthly rent. Any subsequent deposits cannot exceed 10 percent of the original amount. Additionally, the landlord must return this money within 30 days after a tenant leaves. Otherwise, the tenant has the right to sue for the return of the deposit, up to $5,000.
- Late fees. A landlord may charge a fee if the rent is not paid by the date specified in the lease. However, there are some exceptions. For example, a landlord cannot charge a late fee for five days after the due date if the tenant receives certain kinds of government benefits, such as Social Security disability.
- Rent withholding. Tenants may withhold rent if a landlord fails to make important, necessary repairs. If a tenant makes these repairs in the landlord’s stead, then the tenant may deduct the cost from his or her rent. You must also provide the landlord with a notice of this withholding. However, this is a detailed area of the law, so you should always seek the advice of an attorney before withholding rent.
- Notice of rent increase. A landlord may not increase your rent until the end of your lease, unless the original agreement provides for increases. Additionally, the landlord must notify you of a rent increase 30 days before it takes effect.
- Equal housing rights. A landlord may not discriminate against tenants or prospective tenants for any reason.
- Eviction. Landlords must allow tenants 30 days to pay back rent or move before petitioning the court for an eviction notice.
What Else is Included in New Jersey Landlord Tenant Laws?
New Jersey landlord tenant laws also include provisions concerning a landlord’s rights to the property after leasing and more. These additional regulations include:
- Notice for entering the property. Landlords must provide at least one day’s notice before entering the property after the tenant has signed the lease. However, there are special exceptions for emergencies.
- Abandoned property. In many cases, a landlord may dispose of abandoned property only after sending the tenant a notice and allowing 30 days for a response.
- Special protections for domestic violence victims. New Jersey law allows victims of domestic violence to leave a residential lease early. Landlords may ask for proof of status, but they cannot deny this right in the terms of the lease.
- Collection actions. Landlords have the right to initiate collection actions to recover unpaid rent after an eviction.
Many additional details, exceptions and provisions may apply to each individual case. Depending on where in New Jersey you live, there may be local ordinances and laws that affect your lease as well.
Questions about Your Rights as Landlord or Tenant? Contact a NJ Real Estate Attorney
New Jersey landlord tenant laws are complex and often extend beyond what is listed above. Therefore, you should always consult a New Jersey real estate attorney to review your lease and answer your questions about other real estate issues. This can help prevent a future landlord tenant dispute as well as protect your rights if a dispute does arise. Real estate lawyer Gary L. Mason has years of experience with a wide range of both residential and commercial property issues. He can answer your questions, give you legal advice and represent your interests in negotiation or litigation.
Contact our Manalapan law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.