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THE LANDLORD’S RIGHT TO EVICT A LOUD TENANT IN NEW JERSEY

By Philip Ing, Esq. April 29, 2019 Posted in Landlord/Tenant Law

Landlords have a strong interest in protecting tenants from noise disturbances caused by other tenants. Many common noise complaints are loud music, shouting/yelling, slamming doors, banging/stomping, and dog barking (where pets are permitted under the lease). In New Jersey, a landlord may evict a tenant for excessive noise caused by either the tenant or his guests and invitees. It is not likely that a tenant who is responsible for loud noise disturbances on one or two occasions during daytime hours will result in an eviction proceeding, but rather it is a continuing pattern of loud noise disturbances at various times of the day and evening.

In New Jersey, a tenant violates N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(b) of New Jersey’s Anti-Eviction Act if that person “continues to be… so disorderly as to destroy the peace and quiet of the occupants or other tenants living in said house or neighborhood.” Further, if the apartment lease has provisions that indicate that a tenant breaches the lease for substantially violating or breaching a covenant or an agreement in the lease, and if the lease indicates that a tenant may not disturb the peace of other tenants, create loud or obnoxious noises, that tenant may be found to have substantially violated or breached a landlord’s lease covenants under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(d) and/or the lease’s rules and regulations under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(e) of the Anti-Eviction Act.

This eviction process for the landlord starts by documenting and investigating the noise complaints.  A landlord should keep records detailing the time of the noise complaint, which apartment the noise is emanating from, the person(s) making such complaint, and all details regarding the specific noises heard.  If possible, the landlord should quickly investigate the offending apartment to confirm the noise. It is recommended that a landlord also document any communication with the offending tenant regarding the noise complaints.

If the noise complaints continue, before a landlord in New Jersey can file an eviction complaint against a tenant, the landlord must serve a Notice to Cease. This Notice should include as much detail as possible. It should cite to applicable statutes of the Anti-Eviction Act and provisions in the apartment lease that the tenant is alleged to have violated.  The Notice should then summarize each violation that the tenant is alleged to have committed detailing the nature, date and time of the noise complaint, as well as any information the landlord has confirming the noise disturbance. The Notice to Cease should also state that if these violations do not cease, the landlord will take further legal action.

A Notice to Cease written in this manner serves the dual purpose of putting the tenant on notice of noise violations, and also allows the tenant an opportunity to "cure" the alleged violation. If the tenant ceases the described wrongful conduct, a landlord may not proceed to terminate the tenancy. It is, in effect, a warning notice. By statute, the notice must be served upon the tenant or person in possession either personally at the premises, or by leaving it at "his usual place of abode with some member of his family above the age of 14 years or by certified mail; if the certified letter is not claimed, notice shall be sent by regular mail," pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2.

It is advisable to cover all 3 bases. The notice should be simultaneously hand delivered to the apartment premises, and copies sent via certified mail return receipt requested and regular mail. In addition, the person making the personal delivery should fill out a "Certification of Service" form for the tenant’s file in the event of trial. A landlord's case on the day of trial will be dismissed by the court if the court determines that there was defective service of a notice. If the notices (meaning both the Notice to Cease and Notice to Quit) are not correct (legally sufficient) or not properly served, the court must dismiss the landlord's case. Defective notice or defective service is a jurisdictional defect. If a jurisdictional defect exists, the court must dismiss the case. It is important to stress that the acts complained of must be enunciated clearly and in detail. N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2 states that “The notice in each of the foregoing instances shall specify in detail the cause of the termination of the tenancy…” Accordingly, the Notice to Cease (and the Notice to Quit) may not contain conflicting information.

 If the noise disturbances continue for a period of time after the Notice to Cease is served, the landlord must then serve a Notice to Quit upon the tenant, which advises the tenant that due to ongoing noise disturbances, the tenant’s lease agreement is terminated as of the date specified in the Notice to Quit. The Notice to Quit should reiterate the statutory provisions and lease agreement terms that the tenant is alleged to have violated, and the specific factual allegations of the violations, which were set forth in the Notice to Cease.  The Notice to Quit should also detail the additional noise violations the tenant is alleged to have committed after the Notice to Cease was served.  Also, a landlord must serve a Notice to Quit in the same manner as a Notice to Cease.

 If you are a residential landlord and have questions or concerns about whether you can evict a tenant due to their inability to control their pet(s), or force your tenant to remove their pet(s) from the premises due to a lack of control, then you should consult with an attorney who has experience handling tenant pet issues pursuant to New Jersey landlord tenant law.  Let the skilled attorneys at Griffin Alexander, P.C. assist you! If you are a residential landlord and have questions or concerns about whether you can evict a tenant due to their inability to control their pet(s), or force your tenant to remove their pet(s) from the premises due to a lack of control, then you should consult with an attorney who has experience handling tenant pet issues pursuant to New Jersey landlord tenant law.  Let the skilled attorneys at Griffin Alexander, P.C. assist you! If you are a residential landlord and have questions or concerns about whether you can evict a tenant due to their inability to control their pet(s), or force your tenant to remove their pet(s) from the premises due to a lack of control, then you should consult with an attorney who has experience handling tenant pet issues pursuant to New Jersey landlord tenant law.  Let the skilled attorneys at Griffin Alexander, P.C. assist you!If you are a residential landlord who has questions about noise complaints concerning your tenants, then you should consult with an attorney who has experience handling tenants causing noise disturbances pursuant to New Jersey landlord tenant law. Please contact the skilled attorneys at Griffin Alexander to assist you!

 

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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