Buying a new property is stressful enough, but when you plan on renting out that property, you have a lot more to consider. Landlord-tenant laws can be tricky, and they vary from state to state. Below are some of the most important things to know when renting to tenants in New Jersey.
Required disclosures are information that you legally are required to include in your rental agreement lease.
In New Jersey specifically, landlords who own properties with multiple units must include a window guard disclosure in their leases. This window guard notice tells tenants that, by state law, landlords must install and maintain window guards in units that house children 10 years old or below. It’s important to note that tenants who qualify also must submit a written request for their landlord to accommodate their desire for window guards. However, once their submission is created, landlords must purchase, install, and maintain those guards.
Other required disclosures in New Jersey include disclosures regarding landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities, security deposit receipts, whether the property is in a flood zone, and whether a criminal background check is required.
Rent and Fees
New Jersey also has a few stipulations when it comes to how you collect rent.
As for electronic payments, landlords are prohibited from requiring their tenants to pay rent electronically. This means that you must be willing to accommodate renters who prefer to pay in an alternate method, like with cash or checks. Also, if your tenant pays with cash, you must provide a printed or emailed receipt. Although it’s true that online rent collection is much easier for you as a landlord, it’s important that you extend understanding to those who may not trust it or who simply prefer another method.
If your tenant is a senior citizen or another kind of recipient for certain social security pensions or benefits, they must be given a 5-day grace period for rent. In other words, those who qualify under this rule can pay rent up to 5 days after the due date without being charged a late fee. However, if your tenant does not fall under that category, you can decide for yourself how long you would like your grace period to be, as long as it is stated clearly in the rental agreement.
Lastly, rent control is permitted in New Jersey. Landlords are not allowed to raise rent in the middle of a tenant’s lease and must wait until the previous lease’s term is up before offering the new rate. Make sure you check with your local municipality before doing so, since several municipalities have their own laws concerning the ways in which you’re allowed to raise rent.
Security deposits are limited to 1.5 months’ rent in New Jersey. Also, if the bank or savings and loan association that you use pays interest on security deposits, then that interest belongs to the tenant and can either be paid in cash or credited towards their rent payment. If you fail to properly invest the deposit, then the tenant can write a notice demanding that 7% interest per annum and the deposit be applied to a future rent payment. The deposit cannot be intermingled with your personal funds and has to be deposited in an interest-bearing account in a state or federally chartered bank, savings and loan association, or savings bank.
The deposit must be returned within 30 days in a normal move out, but in the case of an untimely displacement due to emergencies like fires or floods, you must return the deposit within five days. If you withheld any funds from the deposit, you must provide an itemized list informing the tenant exactly what you deducted for.
If a tenant defaults on rent, you can file for eviction right away. However, if that tenant has a history of delinquency with rent payment, you must send a Notice to Cease and a 1-month notice to quit if rent continues to be unpaid.
For other lease violations, you must send a Notice to Cease and allow for a reasonable amount of time to give the tenant time to remedy their violation. If they still do not comply, then you can file a 1-month notice to quit notice and file for eviction afterwards.
For disorderly conduct like illegal activity, you can file and unconditional notice to quit and only have to wait three days before filing. However, you must first send a notice to cease and allow time for the tenant to fix the problem. If they don’t, then you can send the 3-day to quit notice.
New Jersey leasing laws are comprehensive and can be confusing, so before investing in this state, make sure you do your own thorough research. New Jersey landlord-tenant laws are in place to keep you and your tenants safe and happy, so follow them closely to provide the fairest treatment possible.