New Jersey rental agreements can be written or oral. Under New Jersey law, (New Jersey Statutes Annotated) rental agreements grant certain rights to the tenant, such as the right to habitable housing and the right to seek housing without discrimination.
Landlords also have certain rights, such as the right to deduct any costs associated with damages that exceed normal wear and tear and to collect rent on time.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
Landlord Responsibilities in New Jersey
In New Jersey, landlords must provide a habitable dwelling and must make requested repairs in a timely manner, though a specific time frame is not defined by the law. If they do not, then tenants may withhold rent, seek rent abatement or can make the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the following month’s rent.
Here is a list of essential amenities that landlords are or are not responsible for.
|Adequate heating||Yes, multi-family units|
|Wall and ceilings||Yes, multi-family units|
|Screens on windows and doors||Yes, multi-family units|
|Window guards||Yes, multi-family units|
|Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors||Yes|
Landlords are not permitted to evict tenants in retaliation for exercising their housing rights (i.e. filing a health and safety complaint).
Tenant Responsibilities in New Jersey
Aside from paying rent in a timely manner, New Jersey tenants must:
- Keep the unit in a safe and habitable condition.
- Keep fixtures clean and sanitary.
- Make small repairs or maintenance.
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors.
Evictions in New Jersey
Landlords in New Jersey are empowered to evict tenants for the following reasons:
- Nonpayment of Rent – If a New Jersey tenant fails to pay rent then the landlord is not required to give any kind of notice, unless the tenant has a history of failing to pay rent on time, which a 30-Day Notice to Quit should be issued before filing an eviction action with the court.
- Lease Violation – If a lease violation occurs then the landlord must first issue a warning and must give tenants a Notice to Cease. If the violation is not addressed, then the landlord may issue a 30-Day Notice to Quit. If the terms of the lease are not met, then the landlord may pursue formal eviction.
- Disorderly Conduct – A landlord may issue a Notice to Cease for any tenant who is being disorderly and is interfering with other tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of the premises. If the tenant continues the disorderly actions, a landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
- Negligence/ Property Damage – A tenant may be evicted if they are grossly negligent or willfully cause property damage. A landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
- Housing Violations – If a landlord is cited by government officials for having a rental property that violates health and safety codes, they may give a tenant a 3-Month Notice to Quit.
- Discontinuance of Use of Rental Property – If the landlord no longer wishes to rent out the property, they may issue an 18-Month Notice to Quit prior to beginning the eviction process.
- Failure to Accept Lease Changes– If a tenant refuses to accept reasonable lease changes, landlords may provide 1-Month Notice to Quit prior to an eviction suit.
- Condominium Conversion – If the owner wishes to convert the rental property into a condominium, landlords shall provide the tenant with a 3-Year Notice to Quit.
- Personal Use or Sale of Rental Property – If a landlord wants to sell the rental property to a buyer who intends to live on the property or the current owner wants to live on the property, they must issue a 2-Month Notice to Quit.
- Termination of Employment – For tenants who received the rental unit as part of their employment and the employment is now terminated, the landlord must provide them with a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
- Illegal Acts – In case of illegal behavior, New Jersey landlords may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This notice is warranted for illegal drug use or possession, assault, willful destruction of property, and disorderly conduct.
It is illegal for landlords to evict tenants in retaliation or for discriminatory reasons.
Security Deposits in New Jersey
- Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – 1.5 months’ rent.
- Time Limit for Returns – 30 days, 15 days if leaving because of domestic violence, 5 days if forcibly evicted due to natural disaster.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a New Jersey landlord wrongfully withholds rent then they may be liable to pay the full deposit amount plus and court-mandated penalties.
- Allowable Deductions – Unpaid rent, damages that exceed normal wear and tear, additional provisions as outlined in the lease agreement.
Lease Termination in New Jersey
Notice requirements. If a tenant on a periodic lease wants to break that lease then they must give the following amounts of notice.
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
Early termination. New Jersey tenants may legally break a lease early for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause
- Active military duty
- Uninhabitable unit
- Landlord harassment
- Domestic violence
- Health crisis
Landlords are not required to facilitate the re-renting process, so tenants that break a lease may be liable to pay the remainder of the lease period.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in New Jersey
- Rent control. New Jersey allows local jurisdictions to enact rent control policies. More than 100 municipalities in New Jersey have some kind of rent control policies. You can check with your local housing authority for more information in your locale.
- Rental increases. In places where rent control is active, Landlords must justify and provide at least 30 days’ notice before raising rental prices. Tenants must be allowed to quit their lease without further conditions if they disagree with the rental hike.
- Rent-related fees. The state does not limit late rental fees provided that they are clearly outlined in the lease agreement. Landlords may also charge returned check fees, but only after they wait 35 days and may only charge a $100 fee or a fee equal to 3 times the check’s value (but not exceeding $500).
Housing Discrimination in New Jersey
Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, or disability. These rules do not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes operated by religious organizations. New Jersey state law adds extra protections for tenants on the basis of ancestry, marital status, domestic abuse victim status, gender identity, sexual orientations, source of lawful income, source or lawful rental payments, and HIV/AIDS status.
Discriminatory acts & penalties. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Civil Rights handles most housing discrimination complaints. The following behaviors have been highlighted as potentially discriminatory when directed at a member of a protected class:
- Refusing to rent or sell on a bona fide offer
- Steering tenants into certain neighborhoods
- Advertisements that imply a preference for or against certain groups
- Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges
- Falsely denying the availability of a unit
- Administering a different application process
- Refusing to provide certain financial services related to housing acquisition
Tenants who feel that they have been the victim of housing discrimination may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office here. If the complaint is found to be justified, then the findings may serve as the basis for civil litigation.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in New Jersey
Landlord Right to Entry in New Jersey
Landlords must give different kinds of notice for maintenance and showing purposes. Landlords must provide “reasonable” notice to enter for maintenance, but tenants can refuse to provide entry in the case of showing unless the lease prohibits it. Landlords are not required to get permission to enter for emergencies.
Small Claims Court in New Jersey
Small claims court in New Jersey will hear rent-related disputes valued up to $3,000 but the courts will not handle eviction cases. The statute of limitations for contracts in New Jersey is 6 years for both written or oral contracts.
Mandatory Disclosures in New Jersey
New Jersey landlords must provide these mandatory disclosures:
- Lead-Based Paint – Landlords who own homes built before 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead paint.
- Flood Zone – Landlords must also disclose if the unit lies in a known flood zone.
- Truth In Renting – Landlords must provide this guide that informs tenants of their rights.
- Child Guard Protective Windows – Landlords have the responsibility to disclose and provide protective window guards to tenants upon written request.
Changing the Locks in New Jersey
New Jersey law does not say much about changing the locks. As such, tenants may be legally allowed to change the locks but it is recommended that they get landlord permission first. Landlords are explicitly forbidden from unilaterally changing the locks as a form of eviction (i.e. “lockouts”).
Local Laws in New Jersey
Newark Landlord Tenant Rights
Newark has a “Municipal Rent Control Ordinance” that caps the amount a landlord can raise rental prices after a certain date. This rate is determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). It can also limit how much the tenant is charged in fees. More info can be found here.
Jersey City Landlord Tenant Rights
Jersey City has rent control ordinances that set standards for what counts as an “allowable increase” and what steps must be taken by the landlord if they plan to increase rent. This ordinance also bans rent increases from taking place during the term of a lease. You can read more here.
Please check your local county and municipality for additional landlord-tenant regulations.