Articles Posted in Landlord/Tenant

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Virtually all residential landlords in New Jersey are required by law to register their apartments with the town in which the property is located. The only exception is when the owner of the apartment building lives in the building and there are less than three rental units in the building.

Further, all apartments must meet local zoning ordinances. While local zoning ordinances vary from town to town, illegal apartment zoning issues typically come up when a landlord rents out an attic, basement, or garage unit. Town ordinances are designed to maintain the health and welfare of the citizens and, as a result, illegal apartments typically also pose some significant health or safety risk. For instance, an attic unit may create a dangerous fire hazard if it does not have an accessible fire escape, while basement and garage units may fail to have the proper light or ventilation causing significant health concerns.

How do you know if you are in an illegal apartment? Many times tenants do not discover that their apartment is illegal until a town official tells them. However, in most cases a tenant suspicious of an illegal apartment can inquire with the local municipality’s zoning board. Some towns where illegal apartments are prevalent, such as Jersey City, even have websites where citizens can report suspected illegal apartments online.
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apartment building (2).JPGNew Jersey landlord-tenant law offers residential tenants a great deal of protection to ensure that people have a secure and safe place to live, provided that tenants comply with their duties and responsibilities.

A landlord/tenant relationship typically begins with the signing of a lease. The lease is a contract – a legal document which specifies the rights and obligations of both the landlord and tenant to one another.

In a typical lease, tenants are required to pay rent and a security deposit, take good care of the premises, and comply with all laws. Often tenants are required to pay the utilities and request permission from landlords before obtaining a pet or altering the premises by, for example, repainting rooms. Landlords, on the other hand, have the responsibility to provide tenants with safe premises that are supplied by water, heat, and proper facilities for installation of a refrigerator.

Beyond their contractual responsibilities, landlords and tenants have other responsibilities to each other. However, the responsibilities of New Jersey landlords far exceed those of tenants. For example, tenants have the right of “quiet enjoyment.” Landlords must ensure that New Jersey tenants can live in their premises without any disturbances from other tenants or the landlord.

Further, New Jersey does not allow landlords or police officers to evict tenants by locking them out of the premises. A “self-help” eviction is illegal and in New Jersey is considered a criminal offense. Evictions may only be completed by special court officers with a warrant for removal issued by a judge.
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