If you are a landlord or are considering becoming a landlord in New Jersey, you will have legal obligations related to your tenants. Being aware of the landlord’s legal responsibilities in New Jersey could save you significant time and money in the future. Our experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Jonathan Fleisher, Esq. can guide you on any specific landlord and tenant questions that you may have. Contact our office today at (732) 360-6409 to learn more.


Landlord-Tenant Laws in New Jersey


Landlord-tenant issues in the state of New Jersey are established by the State of New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs. Within the landlord-tenant relationship, many issues may arise related to the rental of a property. These can include but are not limited to the below items:


  • Security deposit and return concerns
  • Rent increases
  • Cable television issues
  • Pet concerns
  • Lease termination
  • Right of entry for the landlord
  • Eviction process and procedures
  • Rights of tenants


Landlord legal responsibilities in New Jersey are often covered under specific laws that a landlord must comply with when renting out a dwelling. For example, landlord-tenant relations specifically are covered under the New Jersey Administrative Code NJAC 5:29. This form is required to be given to tenants by landlords in one or two-unit dwellings that are not owner-occupied.


Top 10 Landlord Legal Responsibilities


There are many things that landlords must do related when renting out a property. You may have additional questions or require further clarity on these items, and The Law Office of Jonathan Fleischer, Esq. is prepared to ensure your legal and financial rights remain protected as a landlord in New Jersey.


1.    Habitability


Tenants have the right to safe and clean housing. As a landlord, you must maintain your rental unit and keep it fit for residential living throughout the term of the lease. This also means that you are responsible for repairing damage to things that impact livability.

2.    Lead-Based Paint Disclosures


If you are renting a property that was built before 1978 it may contain lead-based paint. The federal government requires disclosure of any potential lead-based paint as well as the hazards associated with it to prospective tenants.

3.    Anti-Discriminatory in Renting


As a landlord, you will have a say in who rents your property. In certain situations, you can reject a potential applicant without it amounting to discrimination. For example, you can reject an applicant for bad credit history, negative referrals from past landlords, or an inability to be able to pay the rent on a month-to-month basis.


Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, you may not discriminate against a potential applicant based on their race, national origin, sex, or other protected categories such as having a physical or mental disability.


4.    Obligation To Provide a Written Lease


A written lease provides a document that shows everything you and the tenant agree to related to the rental property, tenancy, and throughout the lease term. Leases typically include:


  • Term of the lease
  • Rental amount
  • How often rent is expected to be paid
  • What can be done to the premises while the tenant lives in the rental property
  • How much notice must be given to terminate the lease
  • Pet allowances


It is not advisable to let someone rent out a property you own without a written lease. Even if you trust and know the individual to whom you are renting, things may change over time. If something significant changes concerning the tenancy, you want to ensure that both you and your property are legally protected.


Having a written lease also protects a landlord if the tenant makes a legal claim against them. Writing down what was agreed to prevents a tenant from pursuing a claim made based on something that was allegedly promised or agreed to that may not be in the landlord’s favor.


5.    Provide Appropriate Disclosures


As a landlord, you will have certain information that you are legally obligated to disclose as part of the rental process. These disclosures can include but are not limited to:


  • Existing damages to the rental property
  • Rent control rules
  • Shared utility arrangements
  • Presence in a flood zone or any recent flooding


Landlords are encouraged to disclose anything that might affect the habitability of a rental property or the safety of a tenant.


6.    Adhere to Security Deposit Rules


Landlords may want to consider asking for a security deposit as part of the normal renting process. Usually, security deposits are returned at the termination of the lease provided that the rental property has not been damaged in any significant way. In New Jersey, landlords are not permitted to request more than one and a half times the monthly rental payment as a security deposit. In addition, if a landlord requests any additional security deposits in future renewal years it may not exceed 10% of any current security deposit.


7.    Follow Entry Rules


There are certain parameters around a landlord’s right of entry to a property that they own but have rented. Generally, landlords will want to obtain consent from the tenant before entering the premises. In addition, it is recommended that landlords disclose any need or desire to have a key as a landlord before the rental agreement is signed. This is because if there is no mention in the agreement of the landlord having a key then there is no obligation on the part of the tenant to legally provide one.


8.    Observe Eviction Guidelines


Even if a landlord feels strongly that a tenant needs to be evicted, they cannot simply remove someone from the property without adhering to the New Jersey guidelines on grounds for evictions. Before evicting a tenant, you must provide them with a Notice to Quit, which ends the tenancy and informs the tenant that they must leave. After providing a Notice to Quit a landlord may sue for eviction. Once a Judgment for Possession is granted a landlord may evict a tenant.


9.    No Retaliation Against Tenant


If a landlord ends up in a situation involving legal issues with a tenant, they are not allowed to retaliate against a tenant who may be exercising their legal rights. For example, if the tenant questions whether there is lead-based paint and a landlord has already disclosed that there is no lead-based paint, then a landlord cannot make it more difficult for them to live in the property by either increasing their rent or otherwise.


10.         Follow New Jersey State Rental Rules


If a landlord is in a situation where they would like to increase or change the rental amount, charge late fees, or are pursuing the removal of a tenant based on failure to pay, then they must adhere to all New Jersey rent rules to be in legal compliance and prevent a tenant from having a legal claim against them.


Contact an Experienced Landlord Tenant Attorney Today


As a landlord, you will be held to certain standards, most of which are clearly defined by New Jersey state laws or federal laws. If you have specific questions on what legal obligations you may have, The Law Office of Jonathan Fleisher, Esq. can help. Contact our office experienced team today at (732) 360-6409 for a free consultation.