New Jersey Landlord Tenant Laws
January 17, 2023
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|Required Disclosures |
Security deposit receipt
Truth in Renting Act
Criminal background check use
Rent and Fees
Application Fees: N/A
Rent Control: Yes
Late Fee Limit: N/A
Grace Period Minimum: N/A
Amount Limit: 1.5 months’ rent
Return Within: 30 days
Permitted Times of Entry: N/A
|Fair Housing Protections |
Source of Income
Rent Demand Notice: Immediate or 1-month quit notice
Notice for Lease Violation: 1-month quit notice
Unconditional Notice to Quit: 3-day quit notice
New Jersey Landlord-Tenant Law
Understand the essential New Jersey landlord tenant laws before enforcing your own rental policies. Find more information in the New Jersey state law code or this handy guide to New Jersey landlord-tenant laws.
Landlords in all 50 states must include information about lead-based paint hazards in the rental agreements for most properties built before 1978. Sellers and landlords must distribute an EPA-approved information pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and disclose any known lead hazards in the property. These obligations were established by Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
Security Deposit Receipt
Landlords in New Jersey must disclose in writing the name and address of the bank, investment company, or savings and loan association where the security deposit is being held within 30 days of the deposit. The landlord must also disclose the current interest rate of that account in the rental agreement lease.
Truth in Renting Act
Landlords in New Jersey must distribute a copy of the Truth in Renting statement (a list of legal rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants) to each tenant at or prior to move-in. Landlords must also keep a copy of the current statement posted in their office or another place prominent and accessible to tenants. The penalty for violating this act is $100 per each offense (NJSA § 46:8-47).
New Jersey landlords must notify tenants if the rental property is in a flood zone prior to move-in.
New Jersey landlords who own properties with multiple dwelling units must include a window guard disclosure in all rental agreements. The disclosure should inform tenants that the landlord is required by law to provide, install, and maintain window guards in the units of any tenants who have children less than 10 years old or younger and who submit a written request for window guard installation. The notice must be clear, legible, and conspicuous, in boldface type.
Criminal Background Check Use
Before accepting an application fee, landlords must disclose in writing to all applicants whether their eligibility criteria include the review of criminal history. Landlords must also state that the applicant may provide evidence demonstrating that their criminal record is inaccurate. Both responsibilities must be carried out in a nondiscriminatory manner.
Rent and Fees
- Rent Due Date: New Jersey leasing laws do not specify when rent should be due. In most rental agreements, rent is due on the first of the month.
- Electronic Payments: Landlords are prohibited from requiring that tenants pay rent electronically, including electronic funds transfer systems which automatically transfer money on a recurring basis (NJSA § 46:8-49.1). Landlords must also provide a printed or emailed receipt for each cash payment made by a renter (NJSA § 46:8-49.2).
- Application Fees: Rental application fees are not regulated in New Jersey, but the Truth in Renting Act requires them to be reasonable.
- Rent Increases: Rent control is permitted in New Jersey, and several municipalities have rent control laws. Landlords statewide are prohibited from raising rent mid-lease term and must wait until the end of the term to offer a tenant a new lease with the increased rate (NJ Rent Increase Bulletin)
- Late Fees: There are no statutory limits on late fees in New Jersey.
- Grace Period: There is no mandatory grace period in New Jersey. However, senior citizens and other recipients of certain social security pensions or benefits must be given a 5-day grace period for rent (NJSA § 2A:42-6.1).
- NSF/Bounced Check Fee Maximum: If the tenant’s rent check bounces, the landlord may charge a fee of up to $20 per check. This amount may vary as determined by ordinance of the governing body (NJSA § 40:5-18).
- Withholding Rent/Repair and Deduct: If a New Jersey landlord does not keep a property in habitable condition, their tenants may arrange for repairs themselves and deduct the cost from their rent. Tenants may also seek rent abatement or withhold rent if the landlord fails to maintain habitability (Marini v. Ireland).
- Deposit Limit: 1.5 months’ rent. If the landlord collects additional security, it should not be greater than ten percent of the current deposit amount (NJSA § 46:8-21.2).
- Interest: If the bank, investment company, or savings and loan association pays interest on security deposits, that interest belongs to the tenant who made the deposit. It may be paid in cash or credited toward rent. If the landlord fails to properly invest or deposit the security deposit, the tenant may send written notice that the deposit plus 7% interest per annum should be applied to a future rent payment (NJSA § 46:8-19(c)).
- Return Within: 30 days. If the tenant was displaced due to fire, flood, or evacuation, the landlord must return the deposit within five business days (NJSA § 46:8-21.1(3)).
- Deposit Location: Security deposits must be deposited or invested in a money market fund or an interest-bearing account in a State or federally chartered bank, savings bank, or savings and loan association. They must not be commingled with the landlord’s personal funds (NJSA § 46:8-19(a)).
- Withholding: Landlords must include an itemized list of deductions with the returned security deposit. Deductions may include the cost of damages beyond those for normal wear and tear as well as any other outstanding fees due to the landlord under the lease terms (NJSA § 46:8-21.1).
Tenant Screening and Fair Housing Protections
- Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability (Title 24 USC § 3601-3607). New Jersey state law adds sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry, military status, marital status, source of income, HIV/AIDS, and pregnancy (NJSA § 10:5-4).
- New Jersey landlords are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 USC § 1681), which outlines the responsibilities of landlords to protect tenant credit information. According to the Act, landlords may not share tenant credit information with anyone without a legal reason to view it. They must also investigate disputed information, dispose of credit reports after use in tenant screening, and notify applicants when their credit score or history was the reason for their denial.
- Criminal background checks may not be used during tenant screening in New Jersey prior to the provision of a conditional offer. Likewise, landlords may not make any oral or written inquiry into an applicant’s criminal record. There are two exceptions: 1) landlords may consider whether an applicant has ever been convicted of drug-related criminal activity for the manufacture or production of methamphetamine on the premises of federally assisted housing, and 2) Landlords may also consider whether an applicant is registered for life as a sex offender under a state sex offender registration program (NJSA § 46:8-55).
- New Jersey landlords should follow HUD recommendations for using criminal background checks fairly. This includes avoiding blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions, assessing applicants and their criminal histories on a case-by-case basis, and only denying an applicant when they demonstrate a risk to the safety of other residents or the property.
- Advanced Notice: New Jersey does not have a specific advanced notice requirement, but landlords generally may not enter tenants’ units without explicit permission from the tenant or a court order.
- Permitted Times: New Jersey state law does not designate any time-of-day restrictions for entering.
- Emergency Entry: There are no laws in New Jersey regarding emergency entry without notice.
Evictions are complex legal processes often poorly understood by both parties. Before pursuing eviction in New Jersey, consider hiring an experienced real estate attorney and be sure to review the New Jersey eviction process in more detail.
- Rent Demand Notice: Immediate. If a tenant defaults on rent in New Jersey, the landlord may file for eviction immediately after sending notice. However, if the tenant has a history of delinquency with rent payments, the landlord must first send a Notice to Cease, after which, if rent remains unpaid, the landlord must send a 1-month notice to quit (NJSA § 2A:18-61.2).
- Notice for Lease Violation: 1 month to quit. The landlord must first send a Notice to Cease and wait a reasonable amount of time (see: Brunswick Street Assocs. v. Gerard) for the tenant to cure the violation. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord may send the 1-month quit notice (NJSA § 2A:18-61.2(3)(b)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 3 days to quit. This notice applies if the tenant commits disorderly conduct, including illegal activity. The landlord should first send a Notice to Cease and wait a reasonable amount of time for the tenant to fix the issue. If the tenant does not, then the 3-day quit notice can be sent (NJSA § 2A:18-61.2(3)(a)).
Other Laws and Facts About New Jersey
- The New Jersey average rent is $2,200 per month.
- The median rent rate in Newark is $1,900 per month.
- Tenants in Hudson County, NJ, have additional protections under the Tenant Protection Act of 1992. This law extends protections for tenants who were not eligible for Protected Tenancy under the Senior Citizens and Disabled Protected Tenancy Act of 1981 (NJSA § 2A:18-61.40-59; 2A:18-16.11(d)).