As a landlord, it is your duty to understand and meet your legal obligations to tenants. Tenants can legally withhold rent if landlords fail to make repairs or correct other issues that make the premises uninhabitable. Don’t wait to seek legal advice until a dispute has already started. Lawrence M. Centanni is an experienced New Jersey real estate attorney dealing in landlord-tenant issues. Call (908) 351-0028 today schedule your consultation.
Every residential lease in New Jersey carries an implied warranty of habitability. Tenants have the legal right to lease premises that are sanitary and fit for human habitation throughout the entire lease term. As a landlord, you have certain obligations under New Jersey law:
All Vital Facilities Must Remain Operable
In order for any premises to be deemed habitable, it must meet a few basic requirements. There must be running water – both hot and cold. Heating units must be functioning and capable of keeping the premises above 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees during the night between October and May. Broken windows that impair heating must be fixed. There must be a functioning toilet.
Repairs Must Be Conducted in a Timely Manner
If you fail to provide necessary repairs in a timely manner, the tenant can withhold rent or repair the problem and deduct repair costs from the rent that is owed. In drastic situations, prolonged failure to make repairs can constitute a “constructive eviction” from the property. In these cases, the tenant may break the lease without any deductions from a security deposit. The tenant also has no obligation to pay past due rent, future rent, or costs associated with finding another tenant for the property. Constructive eviction is a drastic solution that occurs after an extended period of mismanagement. You can avoid this costly problem by making repairs as soon as possible.
If You Have Three or More Units, They Must Be Registered with the Bureau of Housing Inspection
According to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, landlords who rent buildings with three or more units are subject to the regulations for the Maintenance of Hotels and Multiple Dwellings. These buildings must be registered with the Bureau of Housing Inspection and inspected every five years.
If the Property Was Built Before 1978, You Must Make Required Disclosures About Lead Paint
Lead paint was banned in residential dwellings by federal law in 1978. Buildings constructed before the law as passed could still have lead paint, and, because of this, landlords are required to provide tenants of these buildings with an informational pamphlet about lead paint. They are also required to make a lead paint disclosure in the lease agreement.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with a New Jersey Real Estate Attorney
New Jersey landlords have many legal obligations. By consulting with an attorney, you can save yourself the expense of costly legal disputes with your tenants as well as lost rental income. Call (908) 351-0028 today or contact us online to schedule your consultation with Attorney Lawrence M. Centanni.