Do you rent property to others? If so, you need to get to know your landlord rights in NJ. Knowing your rights will ensure you make all the right moves.
Over 35% of New Jersey residents live in rental housing. This high amount of renters puts rental housing availability in huge demand. That level of demand also shifts the legal focus to renter’s rights and many courts bend over backwards to ensure the tenant is protected. At the same, landlords have rights. In fact, landlords have leeway in the management of their property and it starts with a lease (go figure). In lieu of obtaining a lease template from a online “legal” store, have a lawyer prepare a lease agreement setting forth the lease terms such as the rental amount, deposit, and regulations. The regulation portion of the lease is overlooked and can be helpful to a landlord when an eviction is sought.
You Set the Rental Price (Mostly)
Let’s focus on rent. Outside of rent controlled townships, government assistance programs, and absent a renewal provision, you are free to set your rental price without being limited and subject to rent control laws and ordinances. That is the beauty of a free market society. This means you have the right to choose how much rent you want to charge new tenants.
Once the lease expires, then you may reasonably increase the rent. The tenant can choose to agree to the new rent, move out, or have his/her day in court. In the event one goes to court, this is a very fertile legal issue as to what can and cannot be charged for an increase in rent. Prior to the filing an eviction in landlord tenant court premised on the tenant’s failure to accept a rent increase and/or reasonable lease changes, as the landlord you have to be sure your Notice to Quit is delivered correctly to the Tenant and the substance of the notice is 100 percent accurate. In short, the notice should state that the current lease is ending and that they can stay in the unit by agreeing to sign a new lease at the higher rate.
Now with Newark, it has a vast set of rent control laws. These laws limit landlords’ ability to raise the rent by restricting them to percentage increases based on the Consumer Price Index. The max is 4% in a 12-month period. This does not apply to owner occupied dwellings with a couple of apartments attached thereto.
Right to Evict Tenants
Fair Housing laws restrict landlords from discriminating against certain protected classes in renting and eviction. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot evict people within those protected classes (or any tenant) if they violate the terms of the lease.
Landlords are permitted to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent, disturbing the peace, property damage, lease violations, health violations, illegal activity, convictions for theft, and many more reasons.
Outside of a nonpayment case (and even there you have some exceptions) a basis for eviction starts with a notice to cease (a warning). This gives the tenant notice in order to cure the problem. If the behavior continues, then you must give the tenant a notice to quit before filing an eviction lawsuit. The notice to quit times vary dependent as to the cause for eviction.
Pets are ubiquitous these days, especially in rental property. Allowing pets might give you a competitive edge, but you do not have to allow pets if you don’t want to. You can also allow pets, but restrict certain types of pets and breeds.
The major exception to the ability to restrict animals is compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Landlords must permit service animals in their rental units, and they cannot charge any kind of pet rent or pet deposit.
Another exception unique to New Jersey is the Pets in Housing Projects law. This law applies to any rental property that has three or more units and is defined as a senior citizen community. If a senior citizen tenant provides written notice to you, then the tenant is allowed to have a pet so long as the tenant cares for it and it doesn’t become a nuisance.
Want to Learn More about Landlord Rights in NJ?
You may not be able to hand-select your tenants to the extent you would like. However you do need to know your rights and how to operate within those rights.
Do you have more questions about landlord rights in NJ? Contact us today to see how we can help you.