New Jersey’s Truth-in-Renting Law
As a landlord, you have certain fundamental duties to your tenants. Tenants hold a number of rights when it comes to making complaints against a landlord, including withholding rent, billing for repairs or initiating lawsuits. However, being familiar with the Truth-in-Renting Law can go a long way toward avoiding conflict and contention with your tenants. New Jersey and New York landlord tenant lawyers work regularly with landlords who are eager to avoid potential problems and offer comprehensive reviews of the Truth-in-Renting law as it pertains to each client’s individual rental property. The following is a short review of the terms of the Truth-in-Renting law, including an overview of its key components.
Lease and Rental Terms
The Truth-in-Renting law is triggered once the lease terms are under discussion, and requires landlords to practice veracity and candor when explaining the conditions of the agreement. The lease must clearly state any charges that the tenant should expect during the lease term, and prohibits the adding of new lease terms once the document is signed. As a landlord, you are within your rights to impose a reasonable fee for late rent payments, and you must follow all local and municipal laws when drafting lease terms. In addition to a traditional apartment or condominium, the Truth-in-Renting law also applies to mobile homes and public housing leases, if either happens to be part of your rental property portfolio.
Other pertinent rental laws include:
- Landlords are permitted to retain a key to a tenant’s unit.
- Victims of domestic violence may terminate a lease agreement early without penalty.
- Active duty military members may likewise terminate the agreement early without penalty if called to duty.
- Security deposits cannot be more than one and one-half months’ rent.
- A landlord may prohibit pets, but must do so consistently. In other words, a landlord cannot permit some tenants, but not all, to own pets – and cannot revoke pet permissions mid-lease term.
As the landlord, you are under a strict duty to ensure your tenants’ units and common areas are “habitable.” This means that the condition of the premises is livable, clean and safe. You must install child protective window guards upon request, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be available in each unit, and you must actively maintain working locks on all doors. Tenants may withhold rent if a vital living issue is not addressed, which is defined to include the heating system (but not air conditioning), lack of running hot or cold water, an inoperable toilet, or a hazardous condition threatening the tenants’ safety. As the landlord, it is also your ongoing duty to test the water for potability and to ensure all lead-based paint has been removed.
If you have questions about compliance with the New Jersey Truth-in-Renting Law and want to make certain your lease agreement and properties are in compliance, we encourage you to contact Griffin Alexander, PC right away. You can reach our New Jersey office by calling (973)-366-1188 or our New York office at (212) 374-9790.