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New Jersey Residential Landlords Must Make Certain Disclosures

April 9, 2018 Posted in Landlord/Tenant Law

As a residential landlord in New Jersey, you may be wondering how much information you must disclose to your tenants.  You may think that the imposition of disclosure duties on residential landlords is unreasonably burdensome — and in some cases, it may be.  Tenants, after all, can inspect a premises to some degree and determine whether it is suitable for their needs and preferences.  You cannot escape a disclosure duty, however.  Failure to disclose pertinent information could expose you to potential damages.

Disclosures Required By Law

In New Jersey, as in other states, there are default disclosures — in other words, disclosure duties that are imposed on the landlord regardless of whether the lease agreement includes provisions for such disclosure — and contractual disclosures, that impose additional duties that go over-and-above the baseline standard.

Suppose, for example, that a landlord includes a provision in their lease agreement that requires the landlord to regularly inspect the common areas and disclose to the tenant if there has been leaks or insulation issues.  This disclosure burden is not imposed by New Jersey law, but given that the landlord has agreed to shoulder the additional burden, they must adhere to their newly agreed obligation.  Failure to disclose will therefore violate the rental contract and may result in damages.

As such, you — the residential landlord — can agree to a number of unique disclosures that are tailored towards a particular tenant.  There are, however, a number of default disclosure duties that you’ll want to be aware of.

Residential landlords in New Jersey must disclose information regarding:

  • Lead paint hazards
  • Asbestos hazards
  • Structural property damage (water, fire, insect, mold)
  • Flood zone concerns
  • Truth in Renting statement of the tenant’s legal rights and duties
  • Statement of the tenant’s right to request child protection safeguards
  • Presence of latent defects affecting the “habitability” of the premises
  • And more

Available Defenses

If you have failed to make a required disclosure, you may be able to avoid liability, depending on the circumstances.  Disclosure is rarely strict — the landlord is not expected to have perfect knowledge of every issue.  Generally speaking, the landlord is only required to disclose hazards and defects that they know or have a reasonable possibility of knowing.  For example, if there is a defect in the property that is not obvious (even with a thorough inspection), the tenant may have trouble bringing an action against you for damages given that you could not have reasonably known about the defect beforehand.

Speak With an Experienced Landlord-Tenant Lawyer in New Jersey

New Jersey law demands that landlords make various disclosures to their tenants.  As a residential landlord, it’s up to you to keep up with these legal requirements and adhere to them as closely as possible.  In some cases, tenants may bring an action against you for a failure to disclose, but there may not be adequate justification for the lawsuit — further, you may have a number of available defenses that enables you to avoid or otherwise minimize liability.

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to begin early consultations with an attorney who can help you understand your duties and obligations under the law.  Here at Griffin Alexander, P.C., our attorneys have decades of experience representing landlords in a range of disputes, including those that involve a purported failure to disclose.

Call (973) 366-1188 today to speak with an attorney who has experience handling disputes relating to New Jersey landlord-tenant law.  During your initial consultation, we will evaluate any claims that have been brought against you and help you understand what steps you have to take to avoid liability.

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