Rights, Regulations, and Landlord Tenant Laws - New Jersey 
In the Garden State of New Jersey, landlords and tenants must navigate the complexities of state and local rental laws. These regulations, commonly referred to as landlord-tenant laws, shape the rights, responsibilities, and interactions of both parties. Even experienced rental property owners and tenants can find it challenging to grasp and comply with these rules.
To help tackle this challenge, we've created this comprehensive guide that covers essential topics such as tenant screening, security deposit regulations, lease agreements, and much more. Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, you'll develop a strong understanding of New Jersey's rental laws as outlined in the state's relevant statutes.
Landlords will learn effective strategies to protect their rental properties and nurture positive tenant relationships. Simultaneously, tenants will gain confidence in asserting their rights while residing in rentals.
Let's dive in!
New Jersey landlord tenant law fast facts
- Is a rental license required to be a residential landlord? No, but New Jersey does require landlords to file a Landlord Identity Registration Form or obtain a Certificate of Registration from the Bureau of Housing Inspection of the Department of Community Affairs.
- Are there any security deposit requirements? Yes
- Is there rent control? No, but the state does allow cities and towns to set their own rent control laws.
- Are there limits on late fees? No
- Are there rent payment grace period laws? Yes
- Are there notice of entry laws? Yes
New Jersey landlord responsibilities & rights
New Jersey state law grants landlords rights that allow them to operate efficient rental properties protected from legal issues. Landlords have the right to:
- Collect rent payments when due
- Collect security deposits to cover possible costs like property damage beyond normal wear and tear
- Pursue legal evictions if the tenant breaches the lease agreement
Residential landlords in New Jersey also have a set of responsibilities they must uphold to ensure a smooth and safe tenancy for renters. Their main duties are as follows:
- Providing renters with a safe, habitable rental unit without discrimination
- Making repairs within an “adequate” amount of time after receiving written notice from tenants
- Returning tenants' security deposits within 30 days or less at the end of the lease period
- Providing the tenant with a one-day notice before entering the property
New Jersey tenant responsibilities & rights
New Jersey also grants fundamental rights to tenants that safeguard their safety throughout their time in a rental property. Their main rights include:
- Living in a habitable rental unit that meets basic health and safety requirements
- Having repairs made in an “adequate” amount of time after providing the landlord written notice
- Living in a rental without interference of privacy or right to quiet enjoyment
- Taking legal action against the landlord if they breach the lease agreement
New Jersey renters also have their own set of duties to uphold while renting. They must:
- Pay rent on time
- Keep the unit in safe and habitable condition, including cleaning and sanitizing fixtures
- Make small repairs and do maintenance as necessary
- Not disturb other renters or neighbors
New Jersey landlord tenant law through the rental cycle
New Jersey tenant screening and rental application laws
New Jersey state law has few statutes that cover the tenant screening and rental application process. For instance, the state doesn’t limit rental application fees or require them to be refundable. While landlords are free to ask most questions on the application, they cannot ask any questions that would violate federal or state discrimination laws.
Landlords are allowed to run credit reports, but the landlord must provide the prospective tenant with the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting or tenant screening agency if denying the tenant housing. Furthermore, as of 2021, New Jersey landlords can only run background checks after a conditional offer is made, and can only consider offenses of the first degree within six years, second or third-degree crimes within four years, or fourth-degree offenses within a year.
New Jersey rental agreement laws
New Jersey law requires a lease or rental agreement of three years or longer to be in writing. For shorter lease periods, lease agreements may be written or verbal. It is always recommended to have a written agreement as it outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant.
While New Jersey doesn’t require any certain clauses to be included in lease agreements, landlords should always include standard information like rent price and due date, security deposit amount, and more. Learn what you should include in your rental agreement today.
Landlords must have "just cause" to terminate a lease agreement. The lease term expiring is not a sufficient reason to terminate the lease. Just cause includes, but is not limited to, a failure of the tenant to pay rent, a breach of the lease agreement, and other reasons discussed below.
New Jersey renters can also terminate a lease early for certain legal reasons:
- Active military duty
- Early termination clause
- Uninhabitable unit
- Landlord harassment
- Domestic violence
- Health crisis
New Jersey security deposit laws
New Jersey state law allows landlords to collect a security deposit at the start of a lease period to be used for possible costs like property damage beyond normal wear and tear. However, the state limits how much a landlord can charge for the deposit. The maximum a New Jersey landlord can charge for a security deposit is equal to the equivalent of one-and-a-half month’s rent.
New Jersey landlords must also do the following:
- Provide receipts for security deposits paid in cash.
- Provide interest or investment earnings from a money market fund.
- Hold security deposits in an interest-bearing account or invest in shares of a money market fund.
At the end of the lease, landlords have 30 days to return the tenant’s security deposit. However, they may have less time in case of rare events like fire, flood, and condemnation. Landlords are allowed to make deductions from the security deposit for reasons including damage excluding normal wear and tear and unpaid rent, late fees, and utilities.
If the landlord fails to comply with the notice period or wrongfully withholds funds, tenants can sue for twice the amount wrongfully withheld, plus court and attorney’s fees.
New Jersey rent laws
While New Jersey state does not have rent control laws, it does permit its cities and towns to create their own rent control rules. These laws may limit how much a landlord can charge for and increase rent. For landlords with rental properties in cities without rent control laws, they may charge any amount of rent and increase rent as long as it’s not during a lease term (unless the lease allows for it).
Before increasing rent, landlords must provide a 30-day notice. However, local rent control ordinances may require longer notice periods.
If New Jersey tenants fail to pay rent on time, landlords are not required to provide a grace period before charging a late fee. The exception is senior citizens, who have the right to a 5-day grace period. There is no limit on late fees, but the fee must be reasonable.
It’s important to note that in New Jersey renters have the right to withhold rent in the case the landlord does not keep the property in habitable condition as required by law.
New Jersey repair and maintenance laws
Landlords in New Jersey are required to make repairs within an “adequate amount” of time after receiving written notice from tenants.
If the landlord fails to promptly make property repairs, tenants cant take a few legal actions: sue for costs, file a cort order to force the landlord to make repairs, and use the “repair and deduct” remedy in which they make the repairs themselves and deduct rent from the following payment.
New Jersey notice of entry laws
In New Jersey, landlords have the right to enter rentals for inspections and maintenance purposes. They are also allowed to enter the property for showings as long as it is explicitly mentioned in the lease agreement. Unless for an emergency, landlords must provide a one-day notice before entering the rental property.
New jersey eviction laws
New Jersey state law allows landlords to evict tenants for specific legal reasons. Before moving forward with the eviction process, landlords are required to provide the tenant with a notice period. The notice period length depends on the reason for eviction. The reasons and associated notice periods include:
- Unpaid rent: If New Jersey tenants fail to pay rent on time, the landlord is not required to give any notice period. However, if the tenant has a history of not paying rent, the landlord must issue a 30-day notice to quit before moving forward with the eviction process.
- Lease violation: If the tenant violates the lease, the landlord must first issue a warning and a notice to cease to the tenant. If the tenant doesn’t correct the violation, the landlord can then issue a 30-day notice to quit. If the terms of the lease are still not met, the landlord may move forward with the eviction procedure.
- Illegal acts: If the tenant is found committing illegal acts on the property, the landlord may issue a 3-day notice to quit. New Jersey defines illegal acts as drug use or possession, assault, disorderly conduct, and willful destruction of property.
- Property damage/negligence: Landlords may evict tenants if they are negligent and/or cause purposeful damage to the property. To do so, they must issue a 3-day notice to quit.
- Housing violations: If the landlord is found to have a rental property in violation of local health and safety codes, they may give a tenant a 3-month notice to quit.
Additional legal reasons landlords may evict a tenant include failure to accept lease changes, condominium conversion, and personal use or sale of the rental property.
Additional New Jersey landlord tenant laws
On top of covering rental topics like repairs and security deposits, New Jersey state law also addresses issues like housing discrimination and landlord retaliation. Take a closer look at some of those regulations below.
State and federal laws protect New Jersey tenants from housing discrimination. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against potential renters based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. New Jersey law further protects tenants from discrimination based on characteristics including ancestry, marital status, domestic abuse victim status, gender identity, sexual orientation, source of lawful income, and HIV/AIDS status.
If a landlord violates housing discrimination laws, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Civil Rights.
It’s illegal for New Jersey rental owners to retaliate against tenants for taking legal actions like reporting landlords to government authorities for health and safety violations. In New Jersey, substantially changing rental terms, like increasing rent, or attempted eviction are considered forms of retaliation.
New Jersey landlords must provide tenants with certain disclosures at the beginning of the lease period. The state’s disclosures include:
- Lead-based paint: Landlords who own rental units built before 1978 must provide information about lead paint concentrations in the building.
- Security deposit: If a landlord collects a security deposit, they must disclose where the security deposit is being kept or invested and the rate of interest.
- Flood zone: Landlords must disclose if their rental lies within a flood zone.
- Truth in renting: Landlords must provide the Truth in Renting Guide that informs tenants of their rights.
- Child guard protective windows: Landlords are required to disclose and provide protective window guards to tenants if they request it in writing.
Summing up: Understanding New Jersey landlord tenant law
New Jersey's rental laws were crafted to assign rights and responsibilities to both landlords and tenants. Their primary goal is to establish a fair rental process, but they also promote peaceful landlord-tenant relationships.
It's crucial for both parties to understand and follow New Jersey's laws applicable to their roles. Landlords can glean insights into protecting their real estate investments, and at the same time, tenants can discover how to assert their legal rights.
Lastly, New Jersey rental owners and tenants should be diligent in staying informed about the state's continually evolving laws. These laws can change over time, influencing the rental landscape and procedures.
New Jersey landlord tenant law FAQ
What is the limit a landlord or tenant can sue for in New Jersey small claims court?
Small Claims Court handles disputes involving relatively small amounts of money in a simplified and expedited manner. New Jersey’s Small Claims Court will hear rental cases for up to $5,000. The process normally takes one to three months.
Is New Jersey considered a landlord-friendly state?
New Jersey is generally not considered a landlord-friendly state–evident in its 45th place on this list of landlord-friendly states. The state allows rent control policies that affect how a landlord charges and increases rent. New Jersey also features a broad amount of remedies for tenants experiencing housing issues like eviction. Furthermore, New Jersey is known for having some of the highest property taxes in the country, which can make it difficult for landlords to turn a profit.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.