Residential Landlord-Tenant Law

Residential Landlord-Tenant Law

We represent residential landlords and tenants in all aspects of their relations, from drafting leases to litigation.

Drafting Leases

While our attorneys are seasoned litigators, perhaps the most valuable service we provide is negotiating and drafting leases.  The lease is the most important document in a tenancy.  It governs the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant.  Our experienced landlord/tenant attorneys draft leases which are designed to help prevent disputes from occurring in the first place, and protecting our clients’ rights if disputes do occur.  

Disputes Between Landlords and Tenants

We represent tenants and landlords in all aspects of their relationship.  The causes of disputes are varied. 

Common landlord complaints include a tenant’s failure to pay rent or habitual lateness, a continuing pattern of  disorderly conduct, property damage, violation of the landlord’s or homeowners association’s rules and regulations, disturbing other tenants, or a tenant's conviction for a drug offense.  Tenants, on the other hand, have rights as well. 

Tenants often complain that landlords have failed to provide promised utilities, have failed to make repairs, have refused to let them quietly enjoy their premises, violated rent control ordinances, wrongfully withheld their security deposit, or have allowed a section of the premises to fall into an unusable condition.  When a tenant is placed in an illegal apartment, and then ordered evicted by the government, the landlord is required to pay the tenant a statutory relocation allowance.  Landlord, under some circumstances, including rent control violations, can also be liable for violation of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act.

Landlord/Tenant Litigation

Most tenancy disputes involving evictions are tried in the Landlord/Tenant Section of the Superior Court of New Jersey in the county where the rental is located.  Thus, for instance, landlord/tenant disputes in Clifton are heard in the Landlord/Tenant Court in Passaic County, in Paterson, New Jersey. 

However, suits for money allegedly owed by one party to another are typically heard in the Law Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court, or the Special Civil Division if the amounts in dispute are less than $15,000.  These can include suits by the landlord or the tenant.

Eviction litigation in Landlord / Tenant Court is done in a “summary” fashion.  This means there is no opportunity for discovery to examine the other side’s evidence beforehand.  It is therefore important to have all the evidence with you, such as cancelled or dishonored rent checks, leases, estimates, letters, photographs, bills, and all your witnesses.  For example, many of the reasons for which landlords may seek to evict tenants require written notice (such as a notice to quit or a notice to cure) and an opportunity for the tenant to cure his deficiency; failure to have these documents may result in dismissal of the landlord’s claim.

In the Law or Special Civil Divisions, on the other hand, there will be discovery.  In either event, however, it is important to document everything, and keep copies of this documentation.

If the landlord wins in Landlord/Tenant Court, it will receive a judgment for possession, allowing the landlord to have the county sheriff evict the tenant.  However, the landlord must complete paperwork and have the clerk issue a warrant for possession.  There is a three day waiting period before eviction.  The landlord must let tenants remove their personal belongings; if the tenants do not take them, the landlord must store them. Tenants can obtain a hardship stay of eviction for up to six months, provided they keep their rent current.

Contact Our Landlord/Tenant Attorneys

Relations between landlords and tenants are complex.  Having experienced counsel is essential.  If you have any questions about your tenancy relationship, or to learn more about how we can assist you, please e-mail us or call (973) 890-0004.

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