This article summarizes some key New Jersey Rental Laws applicable to residential rental units.
The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.
With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing, and may even vary from county to county. You have a responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws to your unique situation.
If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney referral service that is operated by the state bar association. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice.
Official Rules and Regulations
- Exclusions: The statutes that regulate security deposits do not apply to owner-occupied premises with not more than two rental units where the tenant has failed to provide 30 days written notice to the landlord invoking the provisions of this act. (§§ 46:8-26 (pdf))
- Security Deposit Maximum: One and a half months rent. (§§ 46:8-21.2 (pdf))
- Security Deposit Interest: Required. Interest on deposit or pre-paid rent remains property of the tenant and shall be paid to the tenant in cash, or be credited toward rent due, on the renewal or anniversary of tenant’s lease or, if notified in writing before the anniversary, on January 31. (§§ 46:8-19 (pdf))
- Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: All deposit money may be deposited or invested in one interest-bearing or dividend-yielding account as long as all other statutory requirements are followed. Statute states that security deposit funds may not be mingled with the personal property of the landlord. Landlords with 10 or more units must invest deposit funds in shares of a qualified money market account. Landlords with fewer than 10 rental units shall deposit money in an interest-bearing account at prevailing rates and insured by the federal government. See statute for other provisions. (§§ 46:8-19 (pdf))
- Pet Deposits: No statute, therefore, pet deposits are allowed, as long as the total deposit does not exceed one and one-half months rent. (§§ 46:8-21.2 (pdf))
- Non-Refundable Fees: No statute
- Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: Landlord has 30 days from the termination of the lease to return deposit plus tenant’s portion of the interest or accumulated earnings. See statute for rules for deposit return in cases of fire, flood or other situations. (§§ 46:8-21.1 (pdf))
- Permitted Uses of the Deposit: No statute. Typically, all or a portion of the deposit can be used for actual damages (nonpayment of rent or fees, or physical damage above normal wear and tear)
- Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Interest or earnings on the deposit and any deductions shall be itemized and tenant notified by personal delivery, registered or certified mail. (§§ 46:8-21.1 (pdf))
- Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute
- Receipt of Deposit: Within 30 days of receipt of the deposit, landlord shall notify tenant of the name and address of the financial institution in which the funds are deposited, the current interest rate, and the amount of the deposit. Such notice must also be given within 30 days of moving the deposit from one financial institution to another, at the time of each annual interest payment and within 30 days of transfer of ownership of the property. (§§ 46:8-19 (pdf))
- Failure to Comply: If the landlord fails to follow the regulations found in §§ 46:8-21.1 (pdf), the tenant could be awarded double the amount of said monies plus reasonable attorney’s fees.
Lease, Rent & Fees:
- Rent Is Due: As stated in the lease.
- Rent Increase Notice: Before the rent can be increased, landlord must give the tenant a written Notice to Quit and notice of the rent increase. Notice must be given as agreed to in the lease, but at least 30 days prior to the increase, or as stipulated within any applicable local rent control ordinance. (New Jersey – Rent Increase Bulletin (Page 1) (pdf))
- Rent Grace Period: 5 “business days” (any day other than a Saturday, Sunday or State or federal holiday) only if dwelling is rented to senior citizens receiving Social Security or other old age pensions and by recipients of Social Security Disability Benefits, Supplemental Security Income or benefits under Work First New Jersey. (§§ 2A:42-6.1 and §§ 2A:42-6.3 (pdf))
- Late Fees: Any fees that the landlord intends to charge should be clearly stated. A lease may permit a “late charge” when the rent is not paid by a certain date. (Truth in Renting Guide (Page 2) (pdf))
- Prepaid Rent: No statute
- Returned Check Fees: After 35 days after demand for remedy of bounced payment, payee can charge $100 or triple face amount, whichever is greater, but never more than $500, including legal fees and court costs. (§§ 2A:32A-1)
- Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): If landlord fails to maintain the property at an adequate standard of habitability, a tenant may withhold all or part of the rent. If the landlord tries to evict for nonpayment of rent, tenant is entitled to use the landlord’s failure to provide a habitable residence as a defense. (New Jersey – Habitability Bulletin (Page 2) (pdf)) (§§ 2A:42-88)
- Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Case law, specifically Marini v. Ireland, 56 N.J. 130, authorized the self-help remedy of repair and deduct. A tenant may repair deficiencies in “vital facilities” and deduct the amount of the repair from the rent. Examples of defects in “vital facilities” would include broken toilets, no hot or cold water, lack of heat or electricity or broken windows. To use this remedy, the tenant cannot have caused the deficiency and must have provided adequate notice in writing and by certified mail, return receipt requested, and given the landlord adequate time to remedy. (New Jersey – Habitability Bulletin (Page 2) (pdf))
- Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: A lease may provide for payment by the tenant of the landlord’s attorney fees and court costs in the event of eviction for non-payment of rent or for other causes. (Truth in Renting Guide (Page 2)
- Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: No statute but case law dictates landlord must make a reasonable attempt. (Sommer v. Kridel 1977)
- Abandonment/Early Termination Fee: No statute
Notices and Entry:
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: Typically no notice is needed as the lease simply expires.
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Yearly Lease with No End Date: 3 Months (§§ 2A:18-56(a))
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: 1 Month (§§ 2A:18-56(b))
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: 7 Days (§§ 2A:18-56(c))
- Termination of Tenancy with 24 Hours Notice: No statute
- Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
- Notice of Termination for Nonpayment: Immediate termination (§§ 2A:18-61.2 (pdf)), unless landlord has previously accepted late rent, then 30 days notice is required. (§§ 2A:18-61.2(b) (pdf))
- Termination for Lease Violation: 30 Days for lease violations, 3 days for disorderly conduct or injury to the premise. (§§ 2A:18-61.2 (pdf))
- Holdover Tenant “Double Rent”: If a tenant does not move out of the property after the end of the lease or notice to quit, the penalty will be double the normal rent for as many months as the tenant remains in possession of the property (N.J.S.A. 2A:42-5 and 2A:42-6).
- Required Notice before Entry: Reasonable notification required, normally one day. (New Jersey – Right of Entry Bulletin (Page 2) (pdf))
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Allowed with reasonable notification. (New Jersey – Right of Entry Bulletin (Page 2) (pdf))
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: A landlord may request entry to a rental unit to show the unit to prospective renters or buyers, or to perform other services. However, there is no law that obligates a tenant to allow a landlord access to the rental premises for purposes other than inspection, maintenance and repair. Therefore, the issue of entry in other cases should be addressed in the terms of the lease. (New Jersey – Right of Entry Bulletin (Page 2) (pdf))
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Allowed in case of emergency where a condition exists that poses an immediate threat to the safety or health of persons using or near the premises. (New Jersey – Right of Entry Bulletin (Page 2) (pdf))
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute
- Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
- Lockouts Allowed: No (Truth in Renting Guide (Page 26) (pdf)). If the landlord continues in “disorderly conduct”, the landlord may be sentenced to up to six months in jail. (§§ 2C:43-8)
- Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No, this is a form of “self-help” eviction.
Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:
- Name and Addresses: At the time of the creation of the first tenancy, a landlord shall file with the clerk of the municipality a certificate of registration that contains the name and address of the owner or owners, or those of the corporate officers if the owner is a corporation, as well as of the managing agent and superintendent or other person employed to provide regular maintenance service. The clerk shall make the certificate reasonably available for public inspection. Within 30 days of the creation of a new tenancy, landlord shall provide each tenant a copy of the certificate of registration. (§§ 46:8-28, §§ 46:8-28.1 and §§ 46:8-29 (pdf))
- Minimum Temperature: From October 1 of each year to the next succeeding May 1, every unit of dwelling space and every habitable room therein shall be maintained at a temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between the hours of 6:00 A.M. and 11:00 P.M. and at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit between the hours of 11:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. The heating system shall be capable of maintaining the minimum required temperature in all habitable rooms without the necessity of heating adjoining rooms more than five degrees higher than said minimum required temperature. (§§ 5:10-14.4(a) (pdf))
- Abandoned Personal Property: Landlord must follow specific procedures found in §§2A:18-72 through §§ 2A:18-84.
- Crime Insurance: Landlord shall make available to all tenants information about crime insurance through the Federal Crime Insurance Program of Title VI of Housing and Urban Development Act of 1970, and advise them where applications for such insurance may be obtained. See statutes for additional provisions and penalties. (§§ 46:8-39, §§ 46:8-40 and §§ 46:8-41)
- Statement of Legal Rights: At the beginning of each tenancy, landlord shall give a copy of the statement, prepared by the Department of Community Affairs, that lays out the primary, clearly established legal rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, and also post it in one or more locations so it is prominent and accessible to all tenants. (§§ 46:8-45 and §§ 46:8-46 (pdf))
- Flood Zone Notification: Landlord shall notify each tenant if the rental property has been determined to be located in a flood zone. (§§ 46:8-50 (pdf))
- Domestic Violence Situations: (Truth in Renting Guide (Page 6-7) (pdf))
- Early Termination Rights: Tenant who is a victim of domestic violence may terminate a lease if the tenant gives landlord written notice that the tenant or tenant’s child faces the imminent threat of serious physical harm from another named person if the tenant remains on the leased premises, in addition to any of the following documents: a certified copy of a permanent restraining order, a law enforcement agency record documenting the domestic violence, or medical documentation of the domestic violence provided by a health care provider. See statute for additional acceptable documents. Lease terminates 30 days after providing required notice and documentation to landlord, unless an earlier termination date is agreed to.
- Proof of Status: Landlord may require that the tenant provide official written proof of status as a victim of domestic violence. Various forms of proof are acceptable – see the guide for details.
- Security Deposit Return: Landlord has 15 days from lease termination due to a claim domestic violence to have available and return the security deposit plus the tenant’s portion of the interest or accumulated earnings. See statute for other provisions.
- Landlord Disclosure Prohibited: Landlord shall not disclose information documenting domestic violence that has been provided to the landlord by a victim of domestic violence, nor enter the information into any shared database or provide it to any person or entity. The information may be used when required as evidence in an eviction proceeding, action for unpaid rent or damages, with the consent of the tenant, or as otherwise required by law.
- Common Landlord’s Duties: (Truth in Renting Guide (Page 19-24) (pdf)) and New Jersey – Habitability Bulletin
- Compliance: Comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
- Repairs: Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;
- Common Areas: Keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition;
- Maintenance: Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied; and
- Heat: Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat between October 1 and May 1 except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat (minimum 68 degrees) or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection. (§§ 5:10-14.4(a) (pdf))
- Common Tenant’s Duties: (No statute)
- Compliance: Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
- Cleanliness: Keep the premises that tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit;
- Trash: Dispose of all garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
- Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
- Appliances: Use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises;
- Lawful Activity: Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so; and
- Quiet Enjoyment: Conduct himself and require other persons on the premises with tenant consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
- Retaliation: Landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority, or has been involved in a tenant’s organization. Other actions are prohibited. Read §§ 2A:42-10.10 – §§ 10.14 (pdf) for more information.
- Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.
- Landlord Identity Registration: A landlord who owns a one- or two-family non-owner occupied house is required by law to file a registration statement with the clerk of the municipality in which the building is located. Download the Registration Form (pdf)
- Business License Required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
- 5 Year Safety Inspection: The Bureau is responsible for ensuring that hotels and multiple-family buildings of three or more dwelling units operating within the State of New Jersey are properly maintained and do not pose a threat to the health, safety and welfare of their residents, nor the community in general. (Bureau of Housing Inspection)