New Jersey
Habitability Laws

QUICK FACTS
  • Landlord Responsibilities. Landlords must keep unit in good condition, supply heat, hot and cold water, electricity and gas, and keep the property secure (read more).
  • Making Repairs. Landlords are required to make and pay for repairs for items under their responsibility. They must do so within a “reasonable time” after receiving a written request from tenants (read more).
  • Tenant Options. If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, tenant can withhold rent, repair and deduct, report the issue to a public official or file a lawsuit (read more).
  • Retaliation. It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate if they are reported to a local city or county inspector for housing code violations (read more).

The implied warranty of habitability in New Jersey does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are & aren’t included.

Dwelling Type Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single family Some state laws apply
Multi-family Yes
Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs No
RV parks Not specifically addressed
Mobile home parks Not specifically addressed
Condos Yes
Hotels/Motels Yes

Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.

Landlord Responsibilities

The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in New Jersey, as indicated below.

Note: some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.

Habitability Issue Landlord Responsibility?
Provide windows and doors that are in good repair. Multi-family units
Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks. Multi-family units
Provide hot and cold running water. Yes
Provide working HVAC equipment. Multi-family units (AC not required)
Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting. Multi-family units
Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking Multi-family units
Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet). Multi-family units
Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services). Multi-family units
Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe. Multi-family units
Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe. Multi-family units
Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean. Multi-family units
Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials. Not addressed
Provide working smoke detectors Yes
Provide a mailbox. Yes
Provide working wiring for one telephone jack. Not addressed
Provide working kitchen appliances. Multi-family units
Provide working carbon monoxide detector. Yes
Provide a working washer/dryer. Not addressed

Pests

In addition to the above, New Jersey Landlords must keep multi-family units free from rodent and other pest infestations.

Security

Landlords of multi-family units must also provide locks for all exterior doors and windows.

Lead Paint

Under New Jersey law, landlords are required to remove “dangerous” lead paint from single and multi-family rental properties built prior to 1978. You will need to check with state and local ordinances to determine whether any lead paint in your rental unit is considered “dangerous” and must be removed.

Sprinkler Systems

Not all states require existing apartment complexes, townhomes, and condos to have sprinkler systems. Many states do not require new construction to have sprinkler systems, either. However, New Jersey has enacted laws requiring “retroactive” installations for high rises.

Single Family Units and Duplexes

Nearly all of the state-level laws are focused on multi-family units. For single family units and duplexes, you will need to look to the laws of your local government for additional landlord and tenant requirements and responsibilities.

Making Repairs

If a tenant wishes for the landlord to make necessary repair, they should inform the landlord in writing of the condition. The notice must be sent by certified mail with return receipt requested.

  • Sending notice. A tenant must give their landlord a “reasonable” amount of time to respond to the request and make necessary repairs. “Reasonable time” varies depending on the degree of repair required.
  • Landlord access.  Tenants of multi-family units are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs. However, a landlord must give tenants one day’s notice unless it’s an emergency.  Residents of single family units or duplexes are not required to allow the landlord entry unless it’s written into the lease agreement.

Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made

If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.

  1. Withhold rent – New Jersey landlord tenant law permits tenants to withhold rent if the landlord makes necessary repairs.
  2. Repair and deduct – Tenants in New Jersey are allowed to make repairs and deduct the cost from next month’s rent provided that they have given their landlord a reasonable amount of time to address problem first.
  3. Lawsuit – Tenants also have the option to go directly to court and ask the judge to order the landlord to pay for repairs and damages resulting from habitability issues.
  4. Reporting to Public Officials – If the landlord is found to be in violation of any local housing codes the tenant can call in the building or health inspector.

Landlord Retaliation

Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability is illegal under New Jersey law. A landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has:

  • filed an official complaint to a Government Authority,
  • joined in a tenant’s organization,
  • made a complaint, or
  • exercised a legal right.

Sources