New Jersey Renters Rights Explained
Information is the key component of a good relationship between a landlord and tenant. The New Jersey renters rights explained here are not intended to cover every situation which may come up, but can serve as a guide for a better understanding of what is and what is not allowed. Because landlord tenant laws are reviewed from time to time, it is important to also review state statutes when finding a solution to a problem you're facing. Here are the key points to consider when looking at the specific rights renters are permitted to enforce for themselves.
1. The Security Deposit Is Protected In Trust.
Landlords are not allowed to make any deductions from a security deposit while the tenant still resides within the rental unit. The maximum security deposit that can be collected equals 1.5x the amount of rent being charged for the rental unit.
2. The Security Deposit Can Be Used To Pay Rent.
Landlords are required to provide notice to the tenant as to where their security deposit is being held. If this information changes without notice to the tenant, then renters are permitted to give their landlord a 30 Day Notice to use the security deposit to pay their past, current, and/or future rent. A 7% interest rate also applies under this circumstance to the security deposit from the day it was paid.
3. Renters Can Leave Their Unit “Broom Clean” Upon Move-Out.
Ordinary wear and tear cannot be deducted from security deposits. New Jersey landlords often attempt to deduct cleaning costs and repainting costs from a security deposit. Unless there is actual damage or debris left in the unit, this is not generally permitted.
4. Renters Have The Right To Not Be Evicted Because Of Late Charges.
If a tenant has paid their overdue rent in full, then any eviction proceeding must usually stop when it is for nonpayment of rent. Although the late charges can be enforced if they are reasonable, the only way to evict a tenant because of late charges is if a lease specifically states that a late fee is considered to be “rent.” Even so, a judge may choose not to enforce this provision.
5. Renters Have The Right To Keep Their Pets.
If a tenant has been granted permission to have pets in their rental unit, then they cannot have this right revoked unless the pets are causing property damage that can be proven, which would then possibly start the eviction process in New Jersey. Even if a new owner takes over the rental unit and doesn't want pets in the building, they cannot force existing tenants to remove pets without just cause.
6. Renters Have The Right To a Reasonable Notice.
Landlords are allowed to enter a rental unit, but only at reasonable times and after providing a reasonable notice. This generally means a notice in writing with at least 24 hours to prepare. Inspections, repairs, or showing a rental unit to a prospective buyer are usually the only allowed reasons for entry.
7. Unless Stated Otherwise, Leases Automatically Renew.
If renters have an annual lease that expires and there is no automatic renewal clause, then the lease transitions to a month-to-month lease. On month-to-month leases, renters or landlords must take action to terminate the lease. Otherwise it will go on indefinitely.
8. Renters Can Terminate a Lease If There Are Habitability Issues.
If a renter has notified their landlord about a habitability issue, such as having no heat in winter, and this issue has not been repair in a reasonable amount of time, the renters have the right to terminate this lease without penalty. The rules for the return of a security deposit still apply.
9. Renters May Also Terminate a Lease For Changing Life Conditions.
For leases that are 1 year in length or longer, having the death of a spouse happen qualifies a renter to terminate their lease. A 40 Day Notice is required for this to happen, the rent must be current, and all property has been vacated at least 5 days before the end of the 40th day. A lease can prevent this from happening with specific terms in its language.
These New Jersey renters rights explained here are intended as a guide only. If you have questions about your situation, be sure to check with state and local laws and consult with a legal attorney to make sure your rights are enforced properly.
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