New Jersey Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on New Jersey landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the New Jersey Landlord Tenant Act.

NJ Landlord Tenant Law:

  • New Jersey Code Title 46, Section 46:3 - Property
  • New Jersey Code Title 46, Section 46:8 - Property

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In addition, New Jersey landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating someone as a renter because of gender identity/expression, civil union status, affection/sexual orientation, ancestry, domestic partner status, source of lawful income or marital status (or change in marital status).

However if the dwelling has two or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them, then he or she won't have to follow the above Fair Housing laws.  N.J.S.A. 10:5-5(n)

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Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

What Landlord Must Disclose

New Jersey landlord tenant law requires the landlord to disclose the following to the tenant:

  • Certificate of Registration: The landlord has to file a certificate of registration with the municipal clerk or official for the first tenancy in a new residential property. The landlord has to give every tenant and occupant a copy of this certificate at the beginning of every tenancy.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-28
  • Crime Insurance: After the tenancy begins, the landlord has to inform the tenant about the Federal Crime Insurance Program (and where he or she can apply for it) within 30 days.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-39
  • Statement of Legal Rights: After the tenancy begins, the landlord has to give the tenant a statement of legal rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords of rental dwelling units (prepared by the Department of Community Affairs) within 30 days.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-45, 46:8-46
  • Flood Zone Notification: Once the tenancy beings, the landlord has to inform the tenant if the rental property is located in a flood zone.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-50
  • Lead Paint: If the property was built before 1978, the landlord must inform prospective tenants if the property contains lead-based paint. In addition, the landlord has to give them a pamphlet of Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.  Health and Safety Code Section 17920.10

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to New Jersey landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • make the landlord or tenant give up any legal rights or remedies under the New Jersey Landlord and Tenant Act  N.J.S.A. 46:8-9.9

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Security Deposit

The following New Jersey security deposit laws do not apply to owner-occupied properties with two or less rental units.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-21.2

New Jersey landlord tenant law allows the landlord to ask for up to 1.5 month's rent as security deposit.

If the tenant keeps a pet (that is not a *service animal), the landlord can ask for an additional pet deposit. This pet deposit can only be deducted for pet-related damages. *A service animal is an animal (usually a dog) that is trained to assist disabled people.

Holding Security Deposit

New Jersey landlord tenant law requires landlords with 10 or more rental units to hold the tenant's deposit in a qualified money market account. Landlord with less than 10 rental units must hold the tenant's deposit in an interest-bearing account (insured by the federal government).

The landlord cannot combine security deposits with his or her own personal accounts.

Within 30 days of receiving the deposit, the landlord has to inform the tenant of the following in writing:

  • Name and address of financial institution holding the deposit
  • account type
  • amount deposited
  • current interest rate  N.J.S.A. 46:8-19(c)(1)

The tenant gets to keep any interest earned by the security deposit (unless he or she agrees to forgo it in the lease agreement).

Deductions and Returns

New Jersey landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-19.(c)

Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under New Jersey landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant failing in his or her duties

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit and interest within 30 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.
   
If the landlord fails to follow New Jersey landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can recover up to two times security deposit amount.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-21.1

If the amount is $5000 or less, the tenant can sue the landlord in small claims court.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-21.4

Change of Property Owner

Once the property ownership is transferred, the new owner will be responsible for refunding any security deposit (plus interest) and prepaid rent to the tenant at the end of the tenancy. Therefore the new owner should make sure that the previous owner transfers all security deposits (plus interest) and prepaid rents along with the property.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-20

The previous owner shall not be responsible for the security deposit and prepaid rent once he or she transfers them to the new owner.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-21

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Newark, New Jersey NJ

New Jersey Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.

By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid on the same day of every month. Rent is to be collected at the rental property.

Late Rent

There are no New Jersey landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.  Truth in Renting: page 2

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

If the landlord can demand for payment if he or she received a bad check or electronic fund payment from the tenant. If the tenant fails to pay up within 35 days of this demand, the tenant shall have to pay three times the payment amount (up to $500) plus legal fees and court costs.  N.J.S.A. 2A:32A-1

Tenant is a Senior Citizen Receiving Social Security or Benefits

If the tenant is a senior citizen receiving social security or benefits (by Social Security Disability Benefits, Supplemental Security Income or Work First New Jersey), the landlord can only charge late fees if the tenant is more than five days late in paying rent.  N.J.S.A. 2A:42-6.1, 6.3

Raising Rent

According to the New Jersey Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.
   
For a month to month tenancy, the landlord has to inform the tenant of a rent increase at least 30 days in advance. The tenant can then choose to pay the higher rent or move out. If the tenant chooses to leave, he or she should give the landlord a 30 day notice to terminate tenancy in writing.  Truth in Renting: page 1

For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The New Jersey Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating (as far as conditions allow)  Truth in Renting: page 19-24

For multiple dwellings (e.g. condominiums, cooperatives, mutual housing corporations), the landlord has to maintain the following temperatures for all habitable rooms from 1 October to 1 May:

  • Minimum 68 degrees Fahrenheit from 6AM to 11AM
  • Minimum 65 degrees Fahrenheit from 11PM to 6AM  N.J.S.A. 5:10-14.4.(a)

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails to maintain vital facilities, the tenant can make repairs and deduct the cost from rent. The tenant has to inform the landlord in writing that he or she intends to fix the problem at the landlord's expense and give the landlord sufficient time to make repairs.

Examples of faulty vital facilities: broken toilts, broken windows, lack of hot/cold water, lack of heating, lack of electricity  New Jersey Habitability Bulletin: page 2, 56 N.J.130(1970)

If Landlord Fails to Provide Essential Services

If the landlord fails to provide an essential service (such as heat, water, electricity, plumbing or sanitation), the tenant can withhold all or part of the rent.

If the landlord tries to evict the tenant for nonpayment of rent, the tenant may use the landlord failing to provide a habitable residence as a defense.  New Jersey Habitability Bulletin: page 2, N.J.S.A. 2A:42-88

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Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to New Jersey landlord tenant law, the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Inspecting for damages
  • Showing the property to prospective buyers, tenants or contractors
  • Removing the landlord's belongings (that are not part of the tenancy agreement)

In the above situations, the landlord must inform the tenant in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours.  New Jersey Right of Entry Bulletin: page 2

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to New Jersey landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion

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Subletting

There are no specific New Jersey landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

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Jersey City, New Jersey NJ

Jersey City, New Jersey NJ

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a tenancy, New Jersey landlord tenant law N.J.S.A. 2A:18-56 requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance:

Week to week tenancy

7 days

Month to month tenancy

30 days

Year to year tenancy

3 months

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Tenant or child is a victim of family violence

30 days

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

See below

Tenant or Child is a Victim of Family Violence

If the tenant or tenant's child is (OR might become) a victim of domestic violence, the tenant can terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a written notice to quit 30 days in advance.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-9.7

This notice must include a statement (under oath or affirmation) that the tenant or tenant's child is (or might become) a victim of serious physical harm PLUS one of the following documents:

  • Certified copy of permanent restraining order issued by the court
  • Law enforcement record describing the domestic violence or proving that the tenant or tenant's child is a victim of domestic violence
  • Medical record by a health care provider describing the domestic violence
  • Report by a domestic violence agency or licensed social worker proving that the tenant or tenant's child is a victim of domestic violence  N.J.S.A. 46:8-9.6

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is partially damaged by fire, disasters or unavoidable accidents, the landlord must make repairs as soon as possible. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant won't have to pay any rent until the property is undergoing full repairs.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-6

If the property is totally destroyed, the lease shall terminate immediately and the tenant only has to pay rent up to the date of the fire or natural disaster.  N.J.S.A. 46:8-7

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Eviction

According to New Jersey landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

Immediate

Tenant disturbed the peace and quiet of others

3 days

Tenant caused property damage due to abuse or negligence

3 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement

30 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a written notice to terminate the tenancy immediately.

However if the landlord has accepted late rent payment from the tenant before, the landlord has to give the tenant a 30 day written notice to pay rent or quit.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2.(b)

Tenant Disturbed the Peace and Quiet of Others

If the tenant is disturbing the peace and quiet of other tenants or occupants in the property or neighborhood, the landlord can send him or her a written notice to cease.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1.(b)

If the tenant ignores this notice to cease and continues his or her disorderly behavior, the landlord can send the tenant a written three day notice to terminate the tenancy.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2.(a)

Tenant Caused Property Damage Due to Abuse or Negligence

If the tenant caused property damage due to abuse or negligence, the landlord can send the tenant a three day written notice to terminate the tenancy.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2.(a)

Even if the tenant offers to repair the damage, the landlord may still go ahead with the eviction.

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement or landlord's rules in a *significant manner, the landlord can attempt to stop the tenant by sending the him or her a written notice to cease. *Significant manner often refers to situations that affects human health and safety.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1.(e)

If the tenant ignores this notice to cease and continues his or her violations, the landlord can send the tenant a written three day notice to terminate the tenancy.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2.(b)]

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Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

There are no specific New Jersey landlord tenant laws on when the property is considered abandoned by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

The landlord has to send the tenant a written notice by first class mail to inform him or her of the abandoned belongings AND give the tenant at least 30 days to remove them.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-74

The landlord can charge the tenant for the costs of moving and storing the abandoned belongings if the tenant chooses to recover them.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-75

If the tenant does not recover the belongings within 30 days, the landlord can choose to destroy, dispose or sell the belongings.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-74

The landlord may use revenue from the public sale to pay for the following:

  • Cost of moving and storing the abandoned belongings
  • Cost of holding the sale
  • Any remaining rent owed or damages that the tenant is responsible for (after deducting from the security deposit first)

Any leftover revenue should be paid to the tenant. If the tenant cannot be contacted, the landlord shall pay the leftover revenue to the Superior Court.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-80

If the landlord violates New Jersey landlord tenant laws on abandonment, the tenant can recover up to two times the amount of actual damages and won't have to pay storage or moving costs for the belongings.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-82

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Resources

New Jersey Landlord Tenant Law: New Jersey Department of Community Affairs - Landlord Tenant Information

New Jersey Landlord Tenant Handbook: Truth in Renting - A Guide to the Rights and Responsibilities of Residential Tenants and Landlords in New Jersey

Eviction: Grounds for an Eviction Bulletin

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

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