New Jersey Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

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New Jersey State Law ImageAre there rent control/rent stabilization policies or laws in New Jersey?
More than 100 cities and townships in New Jersey have passed rent control ordinances. To find out if your city or township has rent control, please contact your city or township hall.

Is it a requirement for landlords to file a certificate of registration for their rental property?
According to -N.J.S.A. 46:8-28, every landlord of a dwelling, except owner-occupied properties with no more than 2 rental units, must file a certificate of registration with the clerk of the municipality in which the residential property is situated, or with the Bureau of Housing Inspection in the Department of Community Affairs. Please also note, if a landlord plans to file for eviction and has not registered with the township in which the dwelling is located, the court has no legal power to evict until the landlord has complied with the law. Furthermore, if the landlord registration statement is not filed, the landlord can be fined up to $500.

What is the maximum amount I can collect as a security deposit?
The security deposit cannot exceed more than one and one-half times the monthly rent and this applies to all items that are non-refundable deposits including but not limited to a pet, key, cleaning and the payment of the last month’s rent in advance.

Are there requirements for where a security deposit must be held, for example, in a separate escrow account?
The landlord must provide the tenant with written documentation stating the name and address of the bank where the deposit is being kept, the amount of the deposit, the type of account, and the current interest rate for that account within 30 days of receiving the deposit. Please also note, the security deposit must be placed in a New Jersey bank and if not, the law requires the landlord to use the deposit in lieu of the rent and to forfeit the right to the deposit.

My tenant has moved out, what do I do with their security deposit?
Once the tenant vacates and within 30 days of lease termination, the landlord must return the entire balance or the remainder of the security deposit plus interest , along with a complete list of the damages, if any.

May I charge an application fee, late rent charge or a returned payment fee?
Application Fee:: There are no restrictions or limits placed on the collection of an application, however, if contested, the courts generally will limit the fee to what is reasonable as compared to the general market.
Late Charge:There are no limits placed on the amount of a late charge; although senior citizens may not be charged more than 5% which the Courts generally apply to all cases. A landlord may charge more if it can be supported as reasonable. However, Landlords must wait until 5 days have passed before assessing a late charge or fee.
Returned payment fees:These fees should remain reasonably related to the landlord's actual expenses incurred. However, Landlords must wait until 5 days have passed before assessing a late charge or fee.

How can I end a New Jersey lease agreement?
Because of the Anti-Eviction Act, a landlord cannot evict a tenant simply because the lease ends. The only reason a landlord may end a lease is after a tenant has rejected a new lease with different terms, such as a higher rent or new rules and regulations.

Important: The landlord cannot force a tenant to move unless a tenant does not accept the new lease conditions or for specific "cause" in the New Jersey Anti-Eviction Law. The ending or expiration of a lease is not a good enough cause for eviction.

Note: The exception to this rule is if landlord owns a building with only 2 or 3 units and lives in one of the them.

The law requires that, for a landlord to raise the rent, the tenant must be given proper written notice. A proper notice must inform the tenant that the current written or oral lease is being ended and that the tenant can stay in the rental unit by signing a new lease at a higher rent.
Month to Month tenancies: The proper notice must explain that the existing lease will be terminated or ended in one full calendar month. Tenant must receive this notice at least one month before the lease ends.
Fixed Term Tenancies: The notice must explain that the lease will terminate on the date the lease ends, and tenant must receive this notice at least one month before that date. The notice can be for a longer period, if the lease specifies so. To learn more, go to: http://www.lsnjlaw.org/english/placeilive/

A tenant may end a lease:
Month to Month lease by giving landlord one months notice before the end of the lease
a fixed term lease or yearly lease: unless the lease says otherwise, tenant must give the landlord a written notice at least one full month before the end of the lease.Are there circumstances where I am required to release a tenant from a lease agreement?
A landlord may be forced to release a tenant from a contractual agreement when the dwelling unit or premise is damaged and/or destroyed by fire or casualty not caused by the tenant, deeming the rental property unlivable or if the tenant is called to active military duty. Additionally, a tenant may seek release from a rental agreement with the court when a landlord does not abide by the state’s landlord obligations.

My tenant has not paid rent; how much notice do I have to give a tenant in order to evict them? Written demand is not necessary for non-payment of rent only. Landlord may go to the appropriate court and file. New Jersey has specific laws about eviction referred to as the New Jersey Anti-Eviction Law. Information may be found at New Jersey Anti-Eviction Law.

Can I require my tenants to obtain renter's insurance?
All residential landlords in New Jersey have an obligation to advise their tenants within 30 days of occupancy of the right to purchase renter’s insurance. Landlords may require tenants to obtain rental insurance, and can make the failure to do so a breach of the lease agreement.

How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
Generally, unless the tenant returns the keys or otherwise states in writing that they have moved out of the rental property, it is best to seek a judgment of possession through the court system.

What may I do with my tenant's personal belongings if they have left them in the rental unit?
Before disposing of the tenant’s personal property, the landlord must give the tenant a notice of 30 days specifying the tenant‘s right to claim the items. The landlord should send this notice, certified mail to the tenant’s last known address (it may be the address of the rental unit that contains the tenants belongings). The landlord doesn’t have to prove that the tenant has received the notice, just that it’s been sent. After mailing the notice, the landlord may not dispose of any of the items left behind until the full 30 days have passed. The landlord may move the tenant’s personal property to another location if such a need arises. If the landlord incurs a charge for storage, he/she can pass that charge onto the tenant, but it must be reasonable.

What can I do if my tenant files for bankruptcy?
The procedures a landlord should take will be determined by bankruptcy court laws. A Landlord usually will proceed with a relief from the “stay” deeming the tenant responsible for rent incurred during the pendency of bankruptcy proceedings. This is a complicated procedure and warrants at least a consult with an attorney.

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the Lease as long as the landlord uniformly enforces it.

Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?
The landlord shall have the right to enter the leased premises at reasonable times and hours, after reasonable notice has been given to the tenant, unless in cases of emergency.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.

Feel free to explore our other New Jersey landlord resources, and to ask legal questions in our Rental Expert Forum.

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Accidental Rental
6 months ago

Excellent information! I want to point out that the 5-day grace period only applies to certain populations in NJ such as seniors receiving social security benefits. It’s still a good idea to use the 5-day grace period for all tenants as it will likely be accepted by any judge in NJ.

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