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Can you evict a tenant for damages caused by subtenants?

December 24, 2018 Posted in Landlord/Tenant Law

Under the Anti-Eviction Act, one of the ways in which a landlord may regain possession of a leased premises is by proof of willful or grossly negligent conduct that caused or allowed destruction, damage or injury to the premises.  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(c). Generally, when landlords are seeking to evict a tenant under this section of the statute, the tenant was the individual who caused the damage.

However, what are your options as a landlord when the tenant subleases the apartment and the subtenant is responsible for damages?

Recently, the New Jersey Appellate Court has provided the answer.

Details of the Case

In the case of Rampersaud v. Hollingsworth, the landlord was seeking to evict the tenant after the subtenant damaged the apartment’s rear door, dislodging it from its frame and ruining the surrounding molding.  No. A-2897-16T1, 2018 N.J. Super. LEXIS 148 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Nov. 1, 2018).  After a one-day trial, the judge ruled in favor of the landlord concluding that the damage was significant, the landlord was entitled to possession, and both the tenant and the subtenant were to be evicted.

The tenant appealed the eviction, arguing that the judge read the Anti-Eviction Act too restrictively in favor of landlords.  He argued that the eviction can only be limited to the subtenant that caused the damage.  The New Jersey Appeals Court disagreed.

Judge Fisher, speaking for the three-judge panel, said that The Anti-Eviction Act, broadly read, defines a “person” as one who allowed the damage to occur, and that definition would include the tenant that subleased the apartment to a subtenant.  The phrasing of the statute, given a sensible reading, must necessarily include a circumstance when a tenant allows another onto the premises and that other person causes the damage that would have the landlord seeking eviction.

Speak With an Attorney

If a subtenant in one of your apartments has caused destruction, damage or injury to the premises, then you may be able to begin eviction proceedings against the tenant who leased the apartment and the subtenant who caused the damage.

Here at Griffin Alexander, P.C., our attorneys have decades of combined experience handling disputes related to New Jersey landlord tenant law.  We are therefore well-positioned to guide you successfully through the eviction process, from the procedural issues associated with notification and service, to the complicated legal concerns typical of a dispute.

Call (973) 366-1188 to get connected to an experienced attorney today.

The information in this Client Alert is provided solely for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice on any specific matter and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based upon particular circumstances.  Each legal matter is unique, and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.


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