Morristown Minute's readers asked, so here are your rights as a landlord in New Jersey.
“In 2001, the share of recently built rental units with monthly housing costs of 1,500 U.S. dollars or more amounted to 15 percent, but rose to 40 percent by 2016.” - Published by Statista Research Department, Nov 6, 2020
The job can offer
- a flexible schedule,
- the ability to choose who you work with,
- the opportunity to meet new people, and even
- a way to pay off the mortgage on your home.
So if you do decide to become a “landlord” here’s how to Protect Yourself From Nightmare Tenants
Background checks and credit checks aren’t foolproof, and they’re not so straightforward in NJ.
As of June 2021, NJ landlords can’t ask renters about their criminal history on housing applications. Only registered sex offenders or ‘convicted drug manufacturers on federal assisted housing’ are open to an examination of their criminal record, prior to a conditional offer.
A landlord can only inquire about a tenant’s criminal record after a “conditional offer” has been made. Once that offer has been made, a landlord is able to run a background check and would be able to consider indictable offenses of 1st-degree within 6 years, 2nd & 3rd-degree offenses within 4 years, and 4th-degree offenses within 1 year.
If a landlord does deny a rental apartment to an applicant and is found to have “committed wrongdoing” in denying that tenant rental property, the landlord would be responsible for finding the tenant housing.
Since background checks aren’t foolproof, here are the most…
COMMON ISSUES FOR LANDLORDS
In general, a landlord does not have the right to enter a tenant’s apartment or rental property without the consent of the tenant or an order from the Superior Court of New Jersey.
If a tenant fails to pay rent when due, landlords can go directly to court and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
Late Rent Payments
However, if the tenant habitually pays the rent late, and the landlord has accepted late rent payments in the past, then the landlord must give the tenant a “30-day notice to cease” before filing for eviction.
The “notice to cease” should include:
- date notice was served
- name(s)/address of tenant(s)
- a reason for notice (“Late Rent”)
- Statement: “if Tenant pays rent late again Landlord will file for eviction.”
- Certificate of service, specifying how the Tenant received the notice
In most cases, a landlord must give a tenant a written notice to cease/stop said disorderly conduct or any other violation. The landlord can only move forward with eviction if the tenant continues the behavior after receiving the notice to cease.
1. Document everything: regularly take updated, detailed photos of your rental property. If something gets damaged, take detailed photos and written notes on when the damage was reported/discovered.
2. Itemize the cost of repairs: landlords can only charge tenants for the cost of repairs as a result of damage greater than ordinary wear and tear. When repairing damage, have a clear, detailed receipt to prove what your tenant owes.
3. Talk to tenants: both before they move in and if they damage property. Ensure your tenants know the consequences of property damage and their responsibilities.
The most common lease violations to look out for are:
- Noise violations
- Long-term guests
- Unauthorized pets
- Unauthorized renovations
- Unsanitary conditions
- Damage to property
- Illegal activity
- Parking violations
One final note on evictions…
A “notice to quit” is required on all “good cause” evictions, except in a failure to pay rent. With a “30-day notice to quit” the tenant has the chance to remedy the situation/complaint if possible.