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New Jersey Tenant Landlord Law

by Caroline Cronin

New-Jersey-Tenant-Landlord-Law-Fast-Facts

Security Deposits

  • Landlords are not required to collect a security deposit. However, most rental agreements require a one month’s rent paid before moving in, sometimes in addition to a security deposit.
  • If a landlord chooses to charge a security deposit, it cannot exceed one and a half month’s rent (§§ 46:8-21.2).
  • A security deposit belongs to the tenant, but the landlord holds the money. It is held by the landlord because it protects him or her from a tenant’s inability to follow the lease, and they could use the money for various reasons.
  • If only part or none of the deposit is returned, the landlord must inform the tenant why within 30 days of the tenant moving out with an itemized list. If the landlord does not do this, the tenant is entitled to up to double the security deposit they put down (§§ 46:8-21.1).
  • Landlord must keep security deposits in an account separate from their personal accounts, so they cannot commingle the deposits (§§ 46:8-19).

Rent and Late Fees

  • In New Jersey, a lease agreement can be either written or verbal. However, if the lease is longer than 3 years, the agreement must be written. Rental due date as well as where it should be turned into, how it should be paid, and more details will be specified in your lease, and tenants are expected to pay landlords the correct amount for their lease on or before that date (155 NJ 212(1998)). This usually occurs on the first of the month.
  • After that point, the landlord has the right to charge a late fee. There is no maximum that a landlord can charge a tenant. If the tenant is a senior citizen receiving Social Security, however, the tenant has a 5 day “grace period” to turn in late rent before incurring a late fee (§§ 2A:42-6.1 and §§ 2A:42-6.3).
  • If a landlord is increasing the rent on a unit, at least one month’s notice in writing must be given to the tenant.
  • There is no statute for late fees, but landlords could give them. This would be laid out in the rental agreement.

Notices and Entry

  • In New Jersey, landlords must give notice for termination of lease depending on the type of rental it is. For a month to month lease, landlords are required to give a 30 days notice for terminating the lease before that month begins. For a year to year rental, a landlord must give at least one month’s notice, though many give up to a 3 month notice (§§ 2A:18-56).
  • If a landlord wishes to increase rent, they must give a written notice to their tenants within 30 days (NJ Rent Increase Bulletin).
  • If the tenant fails to pay rent by the rental due date, the tenant will likely incur a late fee. Failure to pay rent may result in a notice given to the tenant by the landlord. This notice gives the tenant 30 days to either pay the rent or move. Failure to do either in the 30 days allows the landlord to file an eviction notice.
  • If the tenant violates the lease in some way, the landlord will give the tenant a 30 day notice. The lease agreement should clearly state the rules a tenant should follow.
  • Landlords must give tenants a notice of entry 24 hours before entering due to repairs or inspections. For all other reasons, the landlord must give the tenant “reasonable notice” (usually 24-48 hours notice).
  • All tenants have the right to safe, sanitary, habitable living conditions in their rental. A landlord has the duty to maintain the rental unit by keeping it in “habitable living conditions” throughout the term of the lease.
  • It is the landlord’s duty to quickly repair all vital facilities on the property (such as heating). The tenant’s duty is to leave the unit in the same condition it was when the tenant moved in, ignoring the normal wear and tear. However, when damage is due to atypical use by the tenant, it is up to the tenant to cover the repair.(NJ Tenant Landlord Repair Laws).

Disclosures

  • When renting a unit, New Jersey landlords must provide a list of disclosures either in the rental application or most importantly in the lease agreement. These disclosures can cover anything from why an applicant may be denied to how and when they are allowed to raise rent. Writing out all of these ensures that the landlord will abide by these throughout the duration of the lease.
  • Landlords must comply with state laws regarding anti-discrimination, rent rules and eviction laws, security deposit limits and return rules, and others.
  • All landlords must disclose to tenants if the unit is located in a flood-prone area (§§ 46:8-50. They also must let tenants know if the unit or building has any lead-based paint. Failure to do any of this may result in fees, or even lawsuits.
  • In New Jersey, it is required to keep your unit at least 68ºF from the hours of 6am until 11pm and at least 65ºF from the hours of 11pm to 6am. This only is enforced from October 1st until the following May 1st (winter). (§§ 5:10-14.4(a))
  • Any tenant who is a victim of domestic violence may be granted early termination of their lease. In order to do this, the tenant must have written notice that the tenant or a dependent of the tenant's health and safety will be threatened. The lease will terminate 30 days after the tenant provides the landlord with the written notice. (Truth in Renting Guide).

Eviction Laws

  • If a tenant does not pay rent, the landlord does not need to give them notice before filing for an eviction lawsuit (unless the tenant is a senior citizen on Social Security, see above). (NJSA § 2A:18-61.2)
  • Tenants can also be evicted for disorderly conduct. This can include anything that disturbs the peace. Landlords must give the tenant a written “Notice to Cease” first if he or she is disturbing the peace. If the tenant continues, landlords must give a three days Notice to Quit before the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. (NJSA § 2A:18-61.2(a)).