Legally Speaking: The Top 10 Responsibilities of a New Jersey Landlord (Part II)
In our previous blog, we discussed 5 of the top 10 legal responsibilities that New Jersey landlords face. We conclude this series with five additional responsibilities that are just as important. If you are a New Jersey landlord and you have questions about any of these legal responsibilities, contact Griffin Alexander right away and speak with a landlord tenant lawyer in New Jersey about your specific issues.
Tenants Have a Right to Privacy -- Respect It
If a rental unit needs repairs, the landlord is required to give the tenant at least one day’s notice prior to entering the unit. Right-of-entry issues often arise between tenants and landlords; so to avoid conflict, the lease or rental agreement should include a clause that is legally compliant and properly informs the tenant about the right of entry. All entry rights should be made in compliance with the law and landlords are encouraged to keep documentation pertaining to any requests to enter the rental unit.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosures Are Required Under the Law
In New Jersey, landlords are required to make a number of disclosures to tenants. These disclosures are typically included in the lease or rental agreement. For instance, under federal law, a landlord must comply with federal disclosure obligations with respect to lead-based paint (where applicable). Failure to comply could result in the landlord facing a significant amount of fines and penalties. Disclosures might also include information regarding whether or not the property is located in a flood zone.
If a Tenant Chooses to Exercise a Right, Do Not Retaliate
Landlord retaliation is illegal in New Jersey and elsewhere throughout the country. For instance, if a tenant makes a complaint about the unit’s conditions being uninhabitable or unsafe, the landlord cannot and should not attempt to evict the tenant or increase the tenant’s rent for making the complaint. To avoid potential claims of retaliation, landlords should maintain all documentation that can be used to demonstrate the way in which repair requests were handled for the unit, as well as other important pieces of information with regard to the overall relationship with the tenant.
Be Sure to Evict a Tenant/Terminate a Tenancy the Right Way
New Jersey state law specifies how and when landlords can terminate a person’s tenancy. If a landlord fails to abide by these laws, the entire process can be significantly delayed. The laws are quite specific about the type of notice that landlords must give tenants, as well the timeframe in which the tenant must receive that notice. Further, section 8 tenants or tenants that are rent controlled/stabilized have strict notice requirements, which must be adhered to or a case may be dismissed. Additionally, the rules vary depending on the reasons for eviction.
There Are Numerous Resources Available to Landlords -- Use Them
Government agencies, such as state fair housing agencies and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provide landlords with a wealth of information. Likewise, the state attorney general’s office and/or consumer protection agency has a number of helpful guides regarding landlord-tenant law.
Landlords with specific questions about their rental units or the landlord-tenant laws that may apply to their situation are encouraged to seek legal guidance from a skilled landlord tenant lawyer at Griffin Alexander.