When Is It Illegal for Landlords to Retaliate in New Jersey?
It’s illegal for New Jersey landlords to retaliate withattempted evictionorsubstantially changed rental terms.This applies to tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions in the last 90 days:
Complaining to the government about maintenance, after asking the landlord for repairs.
Participating in a tenant organization.
Pursuing rights or remedies given by the law or lease.
Winning a retaliation claim against the landlord.
The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove non-retaliatory, good-faith intentions. For example, a landlord isn’t retaliating by raising rent a reasonable amount after an increase in property tax, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.
What Can Tenants Do in Response in New Jersey?
New Jersey tenants can respond to landlord retaliation bysuing for quiet enjoyment of the property.This will result in eviction actions being thrown out. Tenants can also recover monetary damages or get an injunction to keep the landlord from interfering again.
“In any action or proceeding instituted by or against a tenant, the receipt by the tenant of a notice to quit or any substantial alteration of the terms of the tenancy without cause after: a. The tenant attempts to secure or enforce any rights under the lease or contract, or under the laws of the State of New Jersey, or its governmental subdivisions, or of the United States; or b. The tenant, having brought a good faith complaint to the attention of the landlord and having given him a reasonable time to correct the alleged violation, complains to a governmental authority with a report of the landlord’s alleged violation of any health or safety law, regulation, code or ordinance; or c. The tenant organizes, becomes a member of, or becomes involved in any activities of, any lawful organization…”
“In any action or proceeding instituted by or against a tenant, the receipt by the tenant of a notice to quit or any substantial alteration of the terms of the tenancy without cause after: d. Judgment under section 2 of this act is entered for the tenant in a previous action for recovery of premises between the parties; shall create a rebuttable presumption that such notice or alteration is a reprisal against the tenant for making such attempt, report, complaint, or for being an organizer of, a member of, or involved in any activities of, any lawful organization. No reprisal shall be presumed under this section based upon the failure of a landlord to renew a lease or tenancy when so requested by a tenant if such request is made sooner than 90 days before the expiration date of the lease or tenancy, or the renewal date set forth in the lease agreement, whichever later occurs.”
“A landlord shall be subject to a civil action by the tenant for damages and other appropriate relief, including injunctive and other equitable remedies, as may be determined by a court of competent jurisdiction in every case in which the landlord has violated the provisions of this section.”