Landlord Rights Attorneys Brick and Sea Girt New Jersey
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Property owners may rent or lease their property for residential purposes. Landlords owe certain duties to tenants, but they also retain certain rights regarding the leased premises. This article outlines some of the rights that landlords have when leasing their properties.
Landlords can refuse to rent the property to any person who is unwilling to sign a lease. New Jersey does not require that a lease be signed in order to create a tenancy. However, a landlord can require a lease prior to a tenant taking possession of the property. The lease should, among other things, clearly identify the premises to be leased and a description thereof; the type of lease (monthly, yearly, weekly); automatic renewal provisions; insurance requirements; the date that the lease payment is due and any late payment fee charged; as well as the names of the tenants who will be occupying the property.
The landlord should also consider including other provisions in the lease to address his or her expectations and what is required of the tenant. This includes timely rental payments. As noted above, the landlord should specify the amount due, the date upon which each rental payment is due, and the consequences for late payment. There are some rules regarding grace periods for late fees that apply specifically to senior citizens or those receiving social security benefits. But generally, landlords can include late fees in the rental agreements to encourage prompt payment of rent.
–Additional lease terms
Landlords may include additional terms in the lease such as 1) who is responsible for the utilities; 2) the landlord’s responsibilities; 3) the tenant’s responsibilities; 4) provisions regarding pets; 5) painting; and 6) cleaning fees. It is important to note that are not the only fees a landlord can request.
In addition to rent, the landlord may also include a demand for a security deposit. Any landlord may require a security deposit up one-and-a-half of the monthly rent. The security deposit must be deposited into an account separate from the landlord’s personal accounts and any interest collected will belong to the tenant. The law requires the deposit to be returned to the tenant within 30 days of termination of the lease. However, after certain requirements are met, there are some situations in which a landlord may keep the deposit. Specifically, the landlord may keep the deposit for:
- Unpaid rent and/or utilities;
- Breach of lease, early termination, etc.;
- Extraordinary damage to the property (not general upkeep and wear)
While the landlord is limited to collecting 1.5x a month’s rent as a security deposit, the landlord is not limited in the amount of rent they may charge.
In New Jersey, the law does not control how much a landlord can charge for monthly rent. Landlords can charge whatever they choose, regardless of what other rentals may cost in the area or what is perceived as reasonable. They may specify whether the rent includes or excludes utilities and lawn/snow maintenance. Landlords can also increase rent at the end of the tenancy.
In exchange for the rent, the landlord must provide a property that is habitable. For example, the tenant has the right to live in a rental that abides by the basic standards of a safe and healthy environment. The landlord has a duty to maintain the property in a safe condition consistent with leasing for residential purposes. If, for instance, the water pipes in the property are broken and the tenant has no access to water for bathing, drinking, cleaning, or cooking, this would be considered a breach of habitability. It is unlikely that a court would require a tenant to pay a landlord for the property that has no water, thereby impacting the tenant’s required rent. Conversely, a court would allow a landlord to seek eviction in circumstances in which the tenant breaches his or her responsibilities.
As noted above, a landlord could seek eviction under several circumstances. Any landlord desiring to evict a tenant should carefully follow the law and notice requirements because failure to do so will result in the tenant remaining in the property. Provided that proper procedures are followed and the facts are proven, a landlord may evict a tenant for:
- Non-payment of rent
- Health or safety violations
- Property damage
- Disturbing the peace and enjoyment of other tenants by acts of disorderly conduct
- Failure to pay increased rent
- Paying only partial rent or withholding rent
- Habitually late rental payment
- Retiring the residential use of the property
- Owner occupying the property
- Conversion to co-op
- Refusal of the tenant to accept lease changes
- Contingent tenancies such as tenancy by employment
- Criminal activity including drugs, drug distribution, and theft.
Contact Peter Bronzino regarding your case in Ocean County Today
Creating leases, terminating leases, and cases involving eviction requires careful review and drafting. If you are a business or corporate entity, the court will require you to be represented by counsel. Our attorneys have experience in landlord/tenant matters and can assist in ensuring your rights. Contact our office today.
Attorney Peter J. Bronzino, Esq has represented both landlords and tenants in residential and commercial rental and leasing matters. He is an experienced attorney who is fully aware of every aspect of the landlord and tenant relationship. Mr. Bronzino and his firm Bronzino Law Firm, LLC know the concerns and issues related to being a tenant, and the ones related to a landlord.