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Terminating a Tenancy in New Jersey

December 21, 2016 Posted in Landlord/Tenant Law

In New Jersey, as with most other states, there are various rules and regulations governing a tenant’s early termination of their lease.  Tenants who breach their lease agreement and terminate their lease early may suffer from monetary consequences as tenants are required by law to pay rent for the full term of their lease, or for the period of time until the landlord finds a replacement tenant.  As a landlord, if your tenant has terminated their lease early, you may be able to recover damages for the financial losses suffered as a result.

Initial impressions may indicate that a tenant’s early termination leads to straightforward legal consequences (payment of rent for the remaining term of the lease agreement), however, New Jersey early termination rules are actually a bit more complicated.  There are several exceptions to the default rules, and landlords are saddled with additional duties as well.

Exceptions to Early Termination Payment Rules

New Jersey law allows for certain exceptions to the general rule that a tenant’s early termination requires that the tenant pay the rent for the remainder of the lease term.  

If a tenant falls under any of the following categories, he or she  may be exempt from having to pay the remaining rent after early termination: a) the tenant has begun active military duty after the lease agreement was executed; b) the tenant is at least 62 years old and must be moved into a senior living facility; c) the tenant has suffered a serious injury or illness that requires he or she move to a different location for long-term care; d) the tenant or their child is a domestic violence victim; e) the property fails to meet health and safety standards for habitability; and f) tenant has had their privacy rights repeatedly violated by their landlord. 

The Landlord’s Duty to Mitigate

In New Jersey, landlords are legally required to mitigate their damages – or losses – resulting from early termination of the lease agreement.  Landlords must therefore expend reasonable efforts to rent the unit out to a replacement tenant.  As a landlord, you are not entitled to wait out the lease term and sue for the full rental losses.

Fortunately for landlords, New Jersey does not require landlords to re-rent the unit to a tenant for less than the fair market value, and further, the landlord can recover damages for the additional costs required to advertise or otherwise promote the property for rent.  Landlords are also free to choose the “right” tenant – they need not accept a subpar tenant.

If your tenant has terminated their lease early, you may be able to recover the unpaid rent for the remainder of the term and/or until the apartment is re-rented.

Dealing with the complications of New Jersey landlord-tenant law and early termination of leases can be an overwhelming experience. Let the skilled attorneys at Griffin Alexander, P.C. help you with your legal needs.

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