- 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 and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|Single family||Some state laws apply|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Not specifically addressed|
Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.
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|
All residential leases in New Jersey must contain an implied warranty of habitability. A landlord who rents or leases a single-family or two-family occupied home is required to file a registration statement with the Clerk of the Municipality. All buildings with three or more rental units shall comply with the regulations for the maintenance of Hotels and Multiple Dwellings and the rental units must be registered with the Bureau of Housing Inspection (BHI) in the Department of Community Affairs. BHI enforces the regulations for the maintenance of a building.
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.
If the lease requires the landlord to provide heat to the dwelling unit, there are State housing codes a landlord must meet. From October 1st to May 1st heat must be supplied so the dwelling unit is at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit from the hours of 6am to 11pm and between 11pm and 6am the temperature must be at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition to the above, New Jersey Landlords must keep multi-family units free from rodent and other pest infestations.
Landlords of multi-family units must also provide locks for all exterior doors and windows.
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.
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.
Landlords are required to install and supply window guards in all common areas of the multi-family dwelling unit for tenants who have children 10 years old or younger. Landlords must inspect the window guards twice a year.
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.
- Withhold Rent – New Jersey landlord tenant law permits tenants to withhold rent if the landlord makes necessary repairs or seek rent abatement (a reduction in rent).
- 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. To use the repair and deduct remedy, the repair must be serious enough to materially affect the tenant’s health and well-being.
- Lawsuit – Tenants also have the option to go directly to Small Claims Court and ask the judge to order the landlord to pay for repairs and damages resulting from habitability issues. For multi-family units that fail to meet a minimum standard of habitability, tenants may file a petition in Superior Court where the judge would appoint an individual to receive the tenants’ rent (otherwise known as a “rent receiver”) and that money would be used to make repairs in the building. Under the Rent Receivership law, a judge will consider granting the petition if all other options (i.e., withholding rent, repair and deduct, etc.) have been exhausted.
- 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.
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.
- Exercised a legal right.