New Jersey tenant and landlord laws provide landlords with legal recourse when tenants fail to pay their rent or willfully damage rental units. Protections that the laws provide tenants cover items like security deposits, safe dwellings and evictions. Understanding the laws helps landlords and tenants avoid fines and penalties.
Lease agreements in New Jersey are not binding if they are made between landlords and tenants who are younger than 18 years of age or mentally incompetent. Landlords must allow tenants to renew their leases unless they have a reason to evict the tenant.
Landlords must provide tenants with safe and sanitary rental units. It is the landlord’s responsibility to make and pay for necessary repairs to the rental unit. If landlords fail to make necessary repairs, tenants can contact the New Jersey Bureau of Housing Inspection and report the violations.
In New Jersey landlords can charge up to one and one-half times the month’s rent for security deposits on weekly or monthly leases. For annual rents they cannot charge more than 10 percent above the one and one-half month’s rent limit. If landlords own 10 or more rental units, they must place security deposits in interest-bearing accounts at federally chartered banks, savings banks, savings and loan institutions or loan associations that are insured by the federal government. The financial institutions must operate in and have a physical address in New Jersey. Landlords must provide tenants with the names and locations of the financial institutions where their security deposits are held.
After tenants move out landlords have up to 30 days to return the tenant's security deposit. Landlords are permitted to deduct from security deposits money for damages the tenant caused to the rental unit and money for late rent payments. It is the tenant’s responsibility to give the landlord his new mailing address for mailing of the security deposit. If a tenant breaks a lease and moves because she feels her life is in danger due to domestic violence, the landlord must return the security deposit.
Failure to pay rent, willfully damaging property or breaking other lease agreement terms are reasons landlords can evict tenants in New Jersey. Tenants must receive at least a three-day notice before landlords go to court to start eviction proceedings. Eviction complaints are filed with the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part. Landlords and tenants attend eviction court proceedings. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the landlord must give the tenant time to remove his belongings from the rental property.