4 New Jersey Eviction Laws You Should Know as a Landlord
1. You Cannot Simply Evict A Tenant Once His or Her Lease is over.
“No landlord may evict or fail to renew any lease of any premises covered by…this act except for good cause….” N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2
However, if you have good cause you can evict for reasons such as Failure to Pay Rent Increases or Refusal to Accept Reasonable Changes in a lease. As a landlord, you should check your lease to make sure you have all of the needed clauses that are landlord friendly.
2. Tenants have Fewer Rights in Owner-Occupied Buildings with that have no More than 2 Rental Units in Addition to the One in which the Owner Resides.
New Jersey Statute 2A:18-61.1 addresses tenants who DO NOT live in owner-occupied premises that have no more than two rental units in addition to the one in which the owner resides. What this means is that N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 is an Anti-Eviction statute that covers non-owner occupied buildings or buildings with 3 or more rental units when an owner occupies a unit in the building.
In an owner-occupied building, you as the landlord can simply terminate a tenancy once the lease has expired. In the case of a month-to-month lease, you can serve the tenant a 30-day notice and terminate the tenancy. Talk with a New Jersey Landlord attorney if you have any questions.
3. You cannot get late fees or attorney fees in an eviction case unless you have “Magic Language” in your written lease.
As a landlord, your leases should require your tenants to pay your attorney’s fees if you have to take your tenant to court. Your lease should all you to recover your cost when you win your eviction case. Your tenants will be responsible for paying a “reasonable” attorney fee. It is highly unlikely you be awarded thousands of dollars in fees, however, you are likely to be able to recover some of your attorney fees as long as you have a written lease that states attorney’s fees and late fees are “additional rent” or “collectible as rent.” Community Realty Management v. Harris, 155 N.J. 212 (1998); University Court v. Mahasin, 166 N.J. Super. 551 (App. Div. 1979).
Without out a written lease that describes attorney’s fees and late fees as “rent,” you cannot recover in New Jersey.
4. You cannot get DOUBLE RENT from Holdover tenants.
New Jersey does have a few pro-landlord laws. N.J.S.A. 2A:42-6 is one:
“When a tenant for any term or any other person coming into possession of any real estate by, from or under, or by collusion with such tenant, willfully holds over any such real estate after the determination of such term and after demand made and notice in writing for delivering the possession thereof, given by his landlord or lessor, or by the person to whom the remainder or reversion of such real estate shall belong, the person so holding over shall, for and during the time he so holds over or keeps the person entitled out of possession of such real estate pay to the person so kept out of possession, his executors, administrators or assigns, at the rate of double the yearly value of the real estate so detained, for so long a time as the same is detained. Such amount shall be recoverable by an action in any court of competent jurisdiction.”
Basically, if you provide all the correct notices, your tenant willfully holds over and your lease doesn’t state a “Periodic Tenancy or Tenancy-at-Will” you have the possibility of getting double the rent for those days.