Many people purchase property with the intent of renting the property to tenants. Whether you buy real estate for personal use, to rent to an individual tenant, or whether you are buying a multi-unit property and intend on renting to multiple tenants, it is important to understand New Jersey’s Landlord Tenant laws, especially a change that was recently made to these laws.

Evictions for Non-Payment of Rent

Tenants can be evicted for many different reasons, but likely the most common reason is the non-payment of rent. If an action for eviction is filed based on failure to pay rent, New Jersey’s landlord-tenant laws allow a tenant to pay all the rent that is due at any time before the hearing on the eviction. If the rent is paid by that time, the tenant must be allowed to remain in the property, and the eviction is dismissed.

If the rent is not paid, the landlord can get a judgment of possession, and can ask the court for permission to lock the tenant out of the property. If the judgment of possession is entered, the landlord cannot obtain permission to remote the tenant for three days.

Changes to the Law

That three-day period is what has changed under New Jersey law. Previously, once the judgment of possession was entered, even if the tenant could and would pay all the amounts due to the landlord, the landlord did not have to accept the money during that three-day period after the judgment of possession was entered. The landlord could refuse the tender of the amounts owed, and after the three days, remove or lock out the tenant.

However, this recently changed. The law now allows the tenant to avoid eviction by paying all the amounts due under the judgment within that three day, post-judgment but pre-lockout period. The landlord has no choice but to accept the payment and allow the tenant to remain in the property. Furthermore, the landlord is limited to whatever amount is set forth in the judgment of possession—the landlord cannot add interest or other penalties onto the judgment after it is entered.

Other Requirements Under the Law

The landlord must also notify the court that the rent has been tendered by the tenant, and accepted.

Should the landlord not follow the law (for example, refuse to accept the tenant’s tender of full payment), the landlord will then owe the tenant $500.

The statute says that the Landlord must accept payment made by the tenant regardless of how the payment is made (credit card, check, etc). Because the statute is new, it is unclear whether a rental agreement limiting the forms of payment (for example, a lease that says “cashier’s check only”) would override the statutory provisions.  However, the statute does prohibit the landlord from refusing the tender of rent by the tenant based on the “means by which the payment is made,” indicating that payment in any form must be accepted.

Your real estate closing can be affected by what you intend to do with the property after it is purchased. Contact our real estate attorneys at The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC to help you with your real estate closing.

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The Law Office of Agnes Rybar, LLC, in Toms River, New Jersey, serves clients throughout Ocean County, Monmouth County and elsewhere in South Jersey and along the Jersey Shore, including many in Forked River, Brick and Lakewood.

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