Tenant Rights in New Jersey

We firmly believe that the most essential part of the Renters 101 handbook is not how to beautifully decorate your rental or make a good impression on your neighbors. Although it is important, and you can find plenty of advice on these subjects on the Rentberry blog, there is a topic you have to pay special attention to as a renter. Of course, it’s tenant-landlord law

Here we continue our expiration of renters rights in different US states, and this time we’ll talk about tenant rights in New Jersey. When are you expected to pay for rent, what’s the security deposit maximum, when do you have to inform the landlord if you want to move out? You can find all the answers—and much more—in the following article. 

Rental Application

Application fee: not indicated
Application fee refund: non-refundable
Rental agreement required: oral or written

The renter can be charged a rental application fee, although there is no limit of the fee specified in any New Jersey tenant law regulations. It’s only stated that the fee should be “reasonable”, so check out the average amount of the application fee in the state beforehand!

Similarly to other states, New Jersey officially recognizes both oral and written rental agreements concluded between the parties. That means that you will be protected by tenant-landlord law even if you find yourself in a situation without written agreement. However, keep in mind that we strongly recommend you to always have your rental agreement in writing. Not only it will facilitate your communication with the landlord and help you both be on the same page, but it is also much easier to work with in case you’d have to consult a lawyer or even go to court. 

Security Deposit

Pet deposit maximum: not indicated
Security deposit maximum: not more than one and a half monthly rent; can be increased annually by not more than 10% of the current deposit
Security deposit interest: yes
Return deposit deadline: 15 days
List of charges with the basis for the claim: required
Legal reasons to keep security deposit: to cover unpaid rent or property damage 

When it comes to the amount of the security deposit, New Jersey landlord-tenant law has specific regulations that it cannot exceed one and a half months rent. What’s more, the landlord is allowed to ask for an increase in the deposit once per year. The additional amount cannot exceed 10% of the total deposit.  But, even after the rise, the new deposit amount should not be higher than 1.5 months rent.

Even though the maximum amount of the pet deposit is not indicated, it should be counted as part of the general security deposit. As a result, if you have a pet and the landlord asks you to pay a pet deposit, both your security deposit and pet deposit combined cannot be greater than 1.5 months rent. 

Renters of New Jersey are also eligible to receive interest from their security deposit. The landlord is obligated to provide you with a notice within 30 days; it should state the amount of received deposit, the bank and its address, type of the account, and the interest rate. After a year, you should receive the interest or use towards paying your rent — this should be agreed on with the landlord beforehand. 

When the renter is moving out, they should receive the deposit within 15 days after leaving the apartment. The landlord has a right to withhold the entire deposit or its part in some cases, which include unpaid rent or some damages to the apartment. In this case, the renter has to be presented with a written notice that specifies why the deposit has been withheld. 

tenant laws in New Jersey

Security and Comfort

Smoke alarms: required
Carbon monoxide detectors: required if the building contains fuel-burning appliances or an attached garage
Rekey requirements: not indicate
Window guards: for renters with children aged ten or younger 

According to the tenant-landlord law in New Jersey, each rental unit has to be equipped with smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors are also required, but only if your rental is located in a building that has an attached garage or contains fuel-burning appliances.

Also, if you have a child under the age of 10, you have a right to ask your landlord to install window guards for the child’s safety. The landlord can ask you to cover the cost of window guards’ installation; however, it cannot be more than $20 per one guard. Note that the rentals on the first floor or those located in the owner-occupied buildings are an exception to this rule.

Rental Payments

Maximum rent: not indicated
Rent increase: allowed with a one-month notice for those renting month by month; not allowed until the lease ends for those renting long-term
Right to withhold rent for failure to provide essential services (such as water, heat, etc.): allowed
Late payment limit: not specified

Unlike some other states in the US, New Jersey does not have rent control policies; also, the maximum amount of rent is not indicated by law. There are, however, a few restrictions when it comes to the rent increase. As a result, the landlord cannot increase your rent in the middle of your lease term. 

If you have a yearly agreement, you must be informed at least 30 days before its renewal if the landlord is planning to raise the rent. In the case of month-to-month rental agreements, the tenant should also be notified a month before the landlord intends to increase the rent. 

If you fail to pay rent by a certain time, you might have to cover some additional charges. However, this detail has to be included in your rental contract, so read it well before signing!

You should know that in case your landlord failed to make essential repairs and maintenance of the apartment, you can withhold your rent. However, keep in mind that it is your responsibility to inform the landlord about such repairs in a timely manner. 

Lease Terminations

Notice to terminate lease: from 30 days

There are some interesting positions when it comes to the lease termination in New Jersey. If your yearly lease ends and you plan on terminating it, you have to notify the landlord 30 days before the lease ends (some rental agreements might have this period prolonged to 60 or even 90 days). If you fail to do so, your rental contract will extend automatically to a month-to-month tenant agreement.

New Jersey follows the Anti-Eviction Act, which was created to protect tenants. For this reason, the renter can only be evicted if the landlord has an order from the court judge. Some of the eviction reasons include not paying rent, violating the lease agreement, and involvement in drug activity or theft. 

Disclaimer: Although we have relied on Official State Statutes and other credible sources to find and analyze information for this post, you’re advised to use it as a starting point only and do not consider this article a substitute for legal advice. Some situations are unique, and it is always better to consult with a qualified lawyer or appropriate government agencies.

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