Landlord Rights In New Jersey
As a landlord there are times where you maybe forced to make undesirable decisions with regards to your tenants and the properties you rent that you had not anticipated when you started on the road as a landlord.
Unfortunately it is not uncommon to be subject to legal violations while engaging on such actions without having knowledge of any legal implications. It is important to have some understanding of your rights as a landlord, but in every case finding a competent attorney who fully understands the landlord rights in New Jersey, will always be the best solution to any of your real-estate law disputes.
Right for a Lease of Contract
It is both the right of the landlord and tenant to have a lease which states all the terms and conditions of their business. Although a lease agreement can be closed verbally, the law requires that any business deals should be sealed in a paper document to prevent irresolvable cases in the future. However the rental fee, end and start of contract, payment procedures, security deposits, penalties, and other restrictions will be initiated by the landlord. The tenant has the right to accept these terms or request for adjustments if he or she deems it necessary. If there are any disagreements with the content of the contract then it has to be duly clarified by both parties before they seal the contract with their affixed signatures.
Right for a Security Deposit
A security deposit is money collected by the landlord in advance for tenant-caused damages or past due rent. It is to be used solely for these purposes and has to be deposited on a different bank account which incurs interest rates. It is to be returned to the tenant thirty (30) days before he or she moves out of your rented premise in full together with the interest unless reasonable deductions due to damages incurred during his or her stay is properly presented. All deduction made against the security deposit should be mailed to the last known address and must also be sent in writing thirty (30) days prior to him or her leaving the property.
In the case the tenant wishes to use the amount for the last month payment of his or her rent, this request has to be done in writing and duly accepted by the landlord before it can be deducted from the security deposit. In any case, a verbal agreement is not encouraged for legal purposes.
Guidelines for Security Deposits
The following guidelines are to be followed by any landlord in issuing a notice of security deposit to the tenant.
- The amount of security deposit is not to exceed one and a half month’s rent in accordance with New Jersey’s Rent Security Deposit Act.
- It is the landlord’s obligation to provide the tenant a written notification of the required amount of Security Deposit within thirty (30) days prior to the start of tenancy.
- Deduction due to damages should be classified under the condition of “beyond normal wear and tear”. This does not cover maintenance of the rented area like the roof, floor, and garage repairs duly requested by the tenant during the course of his or her stay in the property. The landlord should remember that they have an obligation to maintain the health and safety of their rented property. Only those which do not cover property maintenance are considered legal deductions of security deposits.
- The security deposit is not owned by the landlord but the tenant.
Any disputes that may arise relating to these guidelines may be addressed through the assistance of a real estate lawyer experience in handling landlord-tenant rights cases.
Right to Increase the Rent
Landlords have every right to increase the rent if and only if it is not prohibited by the municipality and if requested due to reasonable economical conditions. They are restricted to increasing rent due to tenant’s race, religion, national origin or even gender. No rent discrimination is allowed in New Jersey and this is protected not only by State Law but the Federal Law itself. Moreover, he or she also has no right to increase the rent for the purpose of forcing the tenant to evict the property due to complaints that he or she filed to the authorities because of certain inconveniences the tenant may have experienced.
The State Law allows increase in rent only at the beginning of a new lease period. So if the landlord desires to increase the rent due to several factors; he or she has to wait for the lease period to end. After which, he or she may draft a new contract which contains the rent adjustments. Nevertheless, the tenant has the right to sign a new lease or look for a new rented property with lesser rent according to his or her preference.
However, there are certain municipal laws, which allow landlords to increase the rent beyond the guides presented by in the State law. This is normally due to the demand of the landlord for higher rent because he or she is not making a fair rate of return on his or her property. In any case, these types of rent increase are to be proven by the landlord in court and the tenant has every right to contest his or her application.
Right to Eviction
Eviction is legally defined as the right of the landlord to remove the tenant from physical possession of a rented property due to several breaches in the terms of lease or rental agreement signed upon by both properties. Nevertheless, landlords should remember the following things before asserting his right to evict a tenant.
- Have a New Jersey Landlord-Tenant lawyer thoroughly review the contract. Your tenants also have certain rights that are protected by the law. Asking a highly skilled lawyer to review your contract will guarantee that you will not enter into any form of violation upon request of eviction from the court. Any ambiguous terms used in the contract should be clarified before filing your eviction plea at court to avoid turning the table against you in the end.
- Clarify in the contract if it covers attorney’s fees in case any disputes like eviction are filed at court. If not, then evaluate if you have enough funds to support your case in court.
- You should have a sufficient number of witnesses that could testify to the amount owed by the tenant. By witness, it does not only entail a living person but any document that will show to the court your efforts to collect the amount of money. Nevertheless, it is indeed helpful if you have another individual who can attest to your testimonies.
- Guarantee that all courses of action associated with the eviction process have been accomplished. Your lawyer will certainly be of great assistance with this since it concerns different New Jersey Laws like Fair Debt Collecting Practices Act and the New Jersey Anti-Eviction Act.
If you have unluckily found a tenant who has violated the lease agreements because he has used your property for illegal purposes then it is time to look for a Landlord-Tenant Rights Lawyer to handle the case for you. Do not take it into your hands because the law may be too complex for you to handle alone and you may find yourself subject to legal action.
Right to Collection after Eviction
It is the full right of the landlord to collect rent according to the agreed dates on the contract. In any case that the tenant fails to pay then the landlord has the right to request the court for eviction. Nevertheless, if after the notice of eviction from the court has been delivered yet the tenant failed to fulfill his obligations then the landlord can carry out these courses of action.
- He or she through the mediation of a lawyer can request for an out-of-court settlement. This will help both parties save on court fees by bringing to the table a bargaining proposal.
- You have the option to request assistance from the Sheriff to enforce the notice of eviction, but make sure it has been duly confirmed by your attorney. You do not want to be on the losing end of these cases just because you hastily evicted someone from your property.
- Identify any property left by the evicted tenant. Make efforts to know if they do own the equipment and furniture inside the property. Otherwise discuss this matter with your legal counsel.
- File another request in court for the payment of his or her unpaid dues.
- Sue any guarantors related to the lease you have entered into according to the specifications of your contract.
The New Jersey Landlord Tenant law is more complex than what we have discussed in the summary above so to be certain of your landlord rights it is crucial to discuss your legal situation with a very knowledgeable legal counsel who is familiar with the complexity of Landlord-Tenant Rights.
Sammarro & Zalarick, P.A. have over 40 years combined experience working with landlords and tenants in and around Garfield, New Jersey so can expertly assist with any matter relating to landlord and tenant disputes so do not hesitate to Contact Us Online for a free initial consultation and case evaluation.
Be informed and protect your rights as a landlord in New Jersey!
View further information regarding our roles as Landlord Tenant Lawyers