New Jersey Landlord-Tenant Law
The landlord-tenant relationship can be challenging for many, even in New Jersey. When a landlord fails to make requested repairs or when a tenant is late on a rent payment, the relationship can quickly become hostile. Simple misunderstandings about your responsibilities under the lease agreement and New Jersey’s landlord-tenant laws can easily turn into serious legal issues.
Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, you should typically be able to deal with legal issues without going to court. Some landlord-tenant disputes will leave you with no other option. Both parties need to know the basics of renting out a place, how to collect or pay security deposits, about fair housing laws, etc. This overview of key New Jersey landlord-tenant laws will help guide you.
Rent control limits landlords’ ability to increase their tenants’ rent under certain conditions. While New Jersey doesn’t have state laws enforcing rent control, municipalities within the state are allowed to enforce their own rent control ordinances.
Under New Jersey’s Newly Constructed Multiple Dwellings Law, however, municipalities with rent control ordinances may not enforce them on newly constructed multi-home buildings for 30 years after the construction’s completion.
When a new tenant signs a lease agreement, a landlord will typically charge a security deposit along with the first month’s rent payment. The security deposit is deposited into either an insured money market fund or an interest-earning savings account. It’s used to pay for any unpaid rent and repairs for damages beyond typical wear and tear.
A security deposit usually amounts to one month’s rent. However, New Jersey law allows landlords to charge up to a maximum of 1.5 months’ rent. If a landlord charges an additional security deposit upon the renewal of a lease agreement, they may only charge up to 10 percent of the current deposit amount.
Upon the lease’s termination, the landlord is required to return the balance of the security deposit within 30 days after the tenant moves out. If no deductions must be made, the landlord must return the full refundable amount. If any deductions must be made, the landlord must deliver a written notice itemizing the charges and the remaining balance to the tenant within the same 30-day period.
New Jersey Fair Housing Laws
New Jersey prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on characteristics that are protected by the state’s fair housing laws. Specific actions like denying tenants from applying for a rental property may be considered discriminatory if the landlord does these things because of a tenant’s:
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
- Familial status
- Marital status
The lease agreement is the foundation of the landlord-tenant relationship. It is a legally binding contract detailing the responsibilities both the landlord and the tenant promise to uphold. In addition to specifics like amenities, renovations and other apartment features, the lease includes legal details like:
- The rent rate and payment schedule.
- Repair policy and procedures.
- The security deposit amount and what it covers.
- Roommate and guest policies.
- Grounds for lease termination and eviction.
- The length of the leasing term (weeks, months or years).