Landlord / Tenant

Landlord / Tenant

Landlord/Tenant is a relationship between individuals or entities for the lease of owner occupied and non-owner occupied residential or commercial space. A residential landlord is bound by New Jersey law in their relationship with a tenant. A landlord must be knowledgeable as to the security deposit law, notice to the tenant for breaches in the lease and the eviction law. A tenant of residential property should know their rights when entering into a lease and if there is a breach either by the tenant or the landlord.

A commercial landlord while not subject to New Jersey law for eviction of its tenants, must be knowledgeable as to lease termination, habitability claims of tenants, foreclosure and other issues relevant to commercial tenancies.

As experienced real estate attorneys, we have represented both landlord and tenants in the negotiation of leases, resolution of breaches in a lease and litigation in northern New Jersey.

Owner-occupied

An owner-occupied home, typically a two-family home, is one where the owner of the premises lives in one of the units and a tenant rents the other unit. These tenancies are governed by New Jersey law but not the “Just Cause for Eviction Act”. The relationship between the landlord and tenant can be by way of a written or verbal agreement. The notices to a tenant must be in writing. Notices to terminate the lease or evict must be in writing and in accordance with New Jersey law. New Jersey law is less restrictive with owner-occupied premises because the owner lives on site. The reasons for terminating a tenancy, the security deposit requirements and eviction for the sale of the premises are examples where there is much more leeway than under the “Just Cause for Eviction Act”.

Non-Owner Occupied

Non-Owner occupied homes are any residential premises where the owner of the building does not live on site. They can be a single family home, two family home, multi-unit building. These tenancies are governed by the “Just Cause for Eviction Act”. Strict compliance with the law is required. A landlord can be exposed to penalties under the Act for non-compliance with it. There are strict regulations regarding the collection and depositing of a tenant’s security deposit, notice to the tenant if there is a violation of the lease agreement and notice to increase rent. A landlord cannot simply evict a tenant simply because he wants the tenant out. There must be a reason set forth in the Act under which the landlord can evict the tenant. Tenants also must be aware of the law, not only to make sure the landlord is in compliance, but they are not in violation of the law. For example, but not limited to, a tenant is required to give written notice if they are vacating the premises. Verbal notice is generally insufficient.

Most municipalities require the landlord to register the premises with the town. If the premises are not registered, the landlord will have a difficult time evicting the tenant. Most municipalities require that a Certificate of Occupancy be obtained in order to rent the premises. Some municipalities have rent control which prohibits a landlord from raising a tenant’s rent more than a certain percentage each year.

A landlord and a tenant should become aware of the Act and local law governing rentals to avoid costly and adversarily proceedings with their tenant(s) or landlords.