Do you have questions about landlord tenant disagreements? Check out these 11 landlord tenant tips, then call our New Jersey attorneys today.
The landlord must draft a lease very carefully because the purpose of that lease is to provide protection for the landlord. Without a lease, a tenant is not obligated to abide by any rules or regulations other than the timely payment of rent. It is a big mistake for any landlord not to have a lease. A lot of landlords think – erroneously – that having a lease somehow helps the tenant. That’s false.
You must make sure that your lease includes language that prevents such conduct as having pets, if that’s what you wish to do. You may prohibit smoking, loud music at times that are after normal hours, and even set the terms for when the rent is collected. If the rent is going to be late, the lease must clearly state when the late period begins. Late charges have to be stated in the lease, and they have to be deemed to be additional rent. That’s a very important factor. An additional rent clause must be included in every lease. Without the additional rent clause, you cannot seek to recover those charges in Landlord-Tenant Court as part of the rent.
Written vs. Verbal Lease Agreements
Obviously, verbal agreements are those agreements that are not in writing – and they are virtually unenforceable in a Landlord-Tenant Court, except for the payment of rent because you can generally substantiate the payment of rent by keeping written receipts, showing the manner in which the payment is made. Without a written lease, the landlord is going to have serious difficulties trying to evict a tenant for other violations – at least what the landlord deems to be violation of the tenancy.
How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant?
The length of time required to evict a tenant varies because different counties carry widely different caseloads. In Northern New Jersey, where my practice is located, Hudson, Essex, and Union Counties have the state’s densest populations. Because of that, just getting a court date for an eviction complaint can typically take two to three weeks. In other counties, where the number of evictions is much smaller, that time can be as short as ten days.
How Much Does an Eviction Cost?
The costs of an eviction vary depending on the reason the eviction is being sought. Most landlord-tenant evictions are based on non-payment of rent, while others are based on other lease violations. Depending on the circumstances, the cost of a tenancy eviction can range from as little as $750 to as much as several thousand dollars, depending on such factors as whether it’s a commercial eviction or a residential eviction, and the matter’s complexity.
How Much Notice is Required for Eviction?
Depending on the reason for the eviction, the length of time for notices to the tenant may be different. For instance, in the case of non-payment of rent where the tenant has simply failed to pay rent, no notice is required. You may file an eviction complaint with the Landlord-Tenant Court immediately and evict a non-paying tenant forthwith.
If the tenant has engaged in conduct that violates the lease, you must first send a Notice to Cease, which advises the tenant that they’re in violation of the lease, sets forth the lease provision of which they’re in violation, and advises them that if they continue to violate the lease, they will receive a Notice to Quit and be evicted from the property. If, after having received a Notice to Cease, the tenant continues to violate the lease, the tenant is sent a Notice to Quit. Generally, the time period contemplated in a Notice to Quit is 30 days, after which time – if the tenant remains in the apartment or on the premises – the landlord can file a conviction complaint in Landlord-Tenant Court.
In certain instances, other than non-payment of rent, a landlord does not have to wait 30 days and other scenarios a 60-day notice is required. For example, if there’s been destruction to the property because the tenant has recklessly or negligently damaged the landlord’s property, the tenant could possibly be given a three-day Notice to Quit. Then, immediately thereafter, if the tenant continues to remain in the premises, an eviction complaint can be promptly filed.
Tenant is Only Paying Part of the Rent
If a tenant pays only a portion of the rent that’s due, the landlord should accept that rent. However, the landlord should then seek proper counsel and file an eviction complaint against the tenant. If the landlord has a lease that designates all enforcement payments as additional rent, the landlord will be able to recover – not just the rent that’s owed – but also any late charges and fees, such as attorney fees and court costs the landlord had to incur in order to bring the tenant to court and successfully recover rents that are owed.
Tenant Refuses to Pay Rent
Non-payment of rent is the most common tenancy action that takes place in Landlord-Tenant Court. If the landlord has a lease with an additional rent clause, the landlord can file suit to evict the tenant in the Landlord-Tenant Court, and may also seek to recover all legal costs related to that, as well as any late charges. The tenant must provide an adequate reason why the rent wasn’t paid – such as not having access to the apartment, or damage or defects in the apartment in some manner that would cause a reasonable person not to pay rent. Unless a tenant can show that, then the tenant is going to be evicted. A judgment for eviction will be entered in favor of the landlord, and the landlord may proceed to have the tenant locked out of the premises.
What Should I Do if My Tenant Breaks the Lease
When a tenant breaks a lease, the landlord has access to several remedies. First, the landlord can file a Civil Action against the tenant to seek payment of rent that would have been paid had the tenant complied with the lease. The landlord does, however, have an obligation to mitigate damages. For example, if a tenant breaks a lease with, say, four months left, the landlord can’t simply sue the tenant for the four months’ rent. First, the landlord must make reasonable efforts to rent the premises, and he must be able to document those efforts. Once the landlord makes that effort – but is not successful – he can seek to have the tenant pay all the monies that would have been paid under the lease, had the lease not been broken.
Should I Use a Process Server to Perform an Eviction?
In all New Jersey eviction cases, once the landlord has been able to obtain a Judgment of Possession – in other words, the court says that the tenant must leave the premises – the landlord must not avail himself of self-help in order to remove a tenant from his property, but must retain the services of a court constable. The court constable is the individual who actually conducts the lockout of the tenant, posts the Warrant of Removal, and subsequently performs the actual eviction. The landlord is prohibited from conducting self-help evictions in the state of New Jersey.
Which Courts Handle Landlord-Tenant Issues
All landlord-tenant matters are heard in the County Superior Court, in the Special Civil Part Section of the respective county court.
Different Type of Tenancies
The state of New Jersey recognizes three categories of tenants – commercial tenants and two categories of residential tenants. New Jersey statute N.J.S.A 2A:18-53A generally addresses tenants that occupy owner-occupied premises where there are no more than two rental units in addition to the one in which the owner resides. Those tenants have far fewer rights than the majority of tenants – those who fall under N.J.S.A 2A:18-61.1. That statute is called the Anti-Tenancy Eviction statute, and for very good reason. The essential purpose of that statute is to protect tenants from unwarranted evictions.
In the first category – the owner-occupied tenancies – the landlord can simply terminate a tenancy once the lease has completed. In the case of a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord can serve a 30-day notice and terminate the tenancy. Under the Anti-Tenancy Eviction statute, however, so long as the tenant pays rent and does not violate the terms of the lease, they cannot be evicted. In other words, the mere fact that a landlord simply doesn’t like the tenant and doesn’t want to continue to be their landlord is not a reason to evict the tenant. The tenant can only be evicted for just cause – and that’s going to be a violation of the lease or failure to pay rent.
Are you having landlord or tenant issues and need legal assistance? After reading our 11 landlord tenant tips, contact our New Jersey Landlord Tenant Attorney to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.
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