In New Jersey, the respective rights and obligations of landlords and tenants are defined by State and local laws and by the terms and conditions of the parties’ lease agreement. When violations of those rights and obligations occur and the parties are unable to resolve the problem directly, the aggrieved party can file a lawsuit to request the desired remedy.
The New Jersey landlord-tenant lawyers at Weishoff & Richards have more than 50 years of experience in representing landlords and tenants in lease violation lawsuits. Resolving disputes through landlord-tenant litigation is often the most rational alternative to allowing those disputes to cause eviction or lease termination.
Common landlord-tenant disputes
Some of the more common disputes that are resolved in landlord-tenant litigation include:
- Damages resulting from a landlord’s failure to provide the disclosures that are required under New Jersey law, such as whether the leased premises are in a flood zone and the tenant’s right to request child-protective window locks
- Security deposit issues, such as charging a deposit that is over the amount allowed by New Jersey law or failure to return deposits at the end of a lease
- Use of commercial or residential leased property for purposes not allowed under the lease agreement
- A tenant’s damage or destruction of leased property, or a landlord’s failure to provide regular maintenance and repairs
- Violations of State regulations regarding late fees and other charges
- A landlord’s failure to keep apartment temperatures above a certain minimum during winter months
Landlord-tenant disputes with a dollar value of less than $5,000, which often involve matters such as security deposits or late fees, may be resolved in small claims court.
Commercial landlord-tenant litigation might address more complex matters
Commercial leases often run for longer periods than residential contracts and include terms and conditions that are specific to the nature of the premises. Weishoff & Richards has the depth of knowledge to represent parties in commercial lease disputes involving:
- Ambiguities in commercial lease terms and conditions
- Liabilities of parties who have personally guaranteed commercial leases
- The landlord’s and tenant’s respective obligations for repairs to damaged commercial property, and the extent of each party’s duty to procure insurance to cover those damages
- Responsibility to reimburse third parties who have filed premises liability lawsuits for injuries sustained on commercial properties
- Issues over providing rights of access to a business when activities of other tenants are impeding that access
- Disagreements over permitted or precluded activities on a commercial property
Litigation over these and other commercial landlord-tenant matters can involve the complex interaction of the underlying lease terms and New Jersey state real estate law, as well as local ordinances and other rules.
Claims over landlord harassment are a special subset of landlord-tenant litigation
Both residential and commercial tenants have a basic common law right to use and enjoy a leased property without any interference from the landlord. A landlord who harasses a tenant to persuade the tenant to terminate a lease or for any other purpose will have violated this basic lease covenant of quiet enjoyment. A tenant can sue the landlord for breaching this covenant and for other issues related to landlord harassment when, for example, a landlord:
- Reduces, restricts, or removes basic services
- Cuts off utilities to a leased property
- Enters or monitors a property improperly or at inconvenient times, such as in the middle of the night
- Attempts to keep the tenant out of the property by blocking access or changing locks without a proper court order
- Provides inadequate notices of pending legal action
- Fails to provide promised maintenance and repairs
A landlord might believe that he or she is justified in taking these actions to protect an investment in rental properties when a tenant fails to pay rent or does anything else that threatens a property’s value. New Jersey may be a tenant-friendly state, but the State’s laws do provide legitimate mechanisms that a landlord can use which do not amount to unlawful landlord harassment of a tenant. Rather than taking matters into their own hands, landlords should confer with an experienced landlord-tenant litigation lawyer to resolve these and other types of tenant problems.
Contact the Mount Holly Landlord-Tenant Litigation Firm of Weishoff & Richards
The main office of Weishoff & Richards is located in Mount Holly, New Jersey. We represent commercial and residential landlords and tenants in disputes involving lease terms, conditions and other rights and obligations regarding the leased premises. Please call or fill out our contact form today to schedule a consultation with a friendly member of our team.