Sunday, May 8, 2011

A terminated lease on life

New Jersey Landlord Tenant law is governed by The Anti-Eviction Act. Under the Act, a tenant can only be evicted for one of the reasons specifically stated (some people do not fall under the Act and thus can be evicted for other reasons, such as if the landlord lives in the same house with three or fewer renters). There are various reasons, but one of them must be met. You can't evict someone because she is ugly or because he likes Ke$ha.

You also cannot evict someone just because the lease ends. In fact, leases automatically renew in New Jersey. This created a puzzle. Why does a landlord have the ability to terminate a lease with the appropriate amount of notice (usually 30 days) if that is not one of the ways a landlord can evict someone under the Act?

Like a robot attacking a Rubik's Cube, I used mathematical precision and cold, unfeeling logic to come up with two answers. The biggest reason a landlord would want to terminate a lease is that he or she can then offer a new lease, and if all of the terms and changes are reasonable, then the tenant has to accept the new lease. One of the legal grounds to evict someone is for failure to accept reasonable changes to a lease when the existing lease ends. As such, if a tenant refuses to accept "reasonable changes," then the landlord can file for an eviction. However, it is worth noting that even after an eviction is filed, if the tenant accepts the changes and pays any money owed, that tenant can still avoid an eviction.

The other reason I could think of is that if the owner wants to move into the rental property and live there, a notice must be sent to the tenant at least two months before the eviction suit is filed. However, this notice can only be sent after the lease expires, hence why a landlord may want to send notice to end the lease. That would shorten the process. Why a landlord would want to move into a rental property is beyond me, since the landlords never make any repairs or upkeep and the tenants live like diseased rats, gnawing on walls and spreading small plagues with their filth. In fact, the vast majority of landlords would consider it some kind of punishment to live in the properties they maintain, similar to Joe Pesci in The Super.

Regardless of whether it is done by a landlord or a tenant, sending notice to terminate the lease does not require the tenant to move. Without a new lease or other notices, the tenancy agreement simply becomes a month-to-month tenancy. Hopefully with this information, you are now ready to create and end leases in New Jersey. Good luck!

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