New Jersey is one of the best places in the country to live in. It has beautiful scenery, a wonderful job market, and it’s an easy hop over to the Big Apple if you feel so inclined.
If you plan to or are already renting property in beautiful New Jersey, there are a few things you should be aware of. As a renter anywhere, it’s important to know and understand your tenant rights. New Jersey has specific laws when it comes to renters, and it’s important that you learn them if you plan to move to the Garden State.
Understanding NJ tenant rights will help ensure you have the best possible experience in your new home. Read on for everything you need to know.
Required Landlord Disclosure
Tenants have a number of rights in the state of New Jersey. Many of these rights are not spelled out in the lease you sign with your landlord. Thus it’s important that you take the time to learn them yourself.
Understanding your right to full disclosure can be one of the most important things to learn, as it could affect your home hunting process before you even sign. Landlords have a requirement under New Jersey state law to warn tenants about any and all aspects of the property that might be undesirable or cause injury.
Such disclosure runs a gamut of different topics, but anything that could interfere with a tenant’s safe enjoyment of their home must be brought up. Such topics could include asbestos in the walls or a faulty heater in the basement.
Such disclosure also relates to the zoning of a property. If the home is in a flood zone, for example, this is information that must be presented before anything is signed. Landlords can disclose this information orally or in writing, but it’s essential that they get the needed information to all potential tenants.
Some of these issues, such as the faulty heater, need to be not only mentioned but fixed prior to a tenant moving in. A landlord can be legally responsible for issues that make a home uninhabitable.
Laws Regarding Security Deposits
New Jersey state law also protects tenants against unfair treatment in regards to their security deposits. There are state set limits that regulate how much landlords can charge for a deposit.
For people new to a property, the limit is set at a month and a half’s worth of rent for the first year. For all years following, a deposit cannot be increased by more than 10% of the current deposit amount.
There are also rules that regulate the return of the security deposit funds following a person’s exit from a property. According to state law, a landlord must return a former tenant’s security deposit within 30 days of their lease ending. If fire, flood, or evacuation has occurred, the time period is even shorter. They’ll need to return deposit money within five days.
If there is a dispute over the security deposit, tenants have a right to sue their landlords for the money back. They can sue in small claims court for any amount of up to $5,000. You can contact this trusted practice if you need assistance in pursuing your case.
Rights In Regards To Eviction
One of the most discussed areas of tenant law is also the most serious. There is a number of state laws in place that cover how and when a landlord can terminate a current tenancy.
A tenant must have violated their current lease in order to become evicted. Lease violations can come in a variety of forms, though the most common is a failure to pay rent. In most New Jersey cities, your lease must specify which violations can result in an eviction penalty.
Once notified, a tenant has three days to vacate the premises. This is a short period of time compared to many states in the country. Some local legislature within New Jersey will grant tenants the ability to resolve the violation and avoid eviction, though this is not the situation in all cases.
If you have an eviction dispute with your landlord, you can fight the case in a court of law. You may have grounds to sue for a breach of your rights.
Tenant Rights To Withhold Rent
In some situations, tenants may have a right to withhold their monthly rent payment from their landlord. This is legally permissible when a landlord has failed their duty to provide a suitably livable environment for their tenants.
Such a failure can take a variety of forms. Failure to perform necessary upkeep or repairs to a property is the most common reason. In this situation, a tenant also has the right to ‘repair and deduct.’ This means that the tenant hires a repairman themselves and deducts the cost of the repair from their rental payment.
The type of repair required and the time period passed are both important when securing this tenant right. It’s essential to confer with proper legal counsel before attempting to withhold rent from your landlord.
To do so without proper grounds could inadvertently lead to your own eviction– the last thing you’d want!
Understanding NJ Tenant Rights
Living as a tenant has a number of pros and cons. Regardless of your situation, it’s essential that you understand NJ tenant rights if you plan to live and rent in New Jersey. Doing so will help prevent you from being taken advantage of.
Need to write a complaint letter to your landlord? Use our form letter to help you get started.