Under New Jersey state law, all tenants have the right to a livable dwelling, protection from unlawful discrimination, the right to hold the landlord liable for damage caused by the landlord’s negligence, and protection against lockouts and seizure of personal property by the landlord.
Section 8 participants enter into a lease agreement with a housing provider which is governed by the residential landlord/tenant laws in the State of New Jersey and the Township of Lakewood, just as they would without Section 8 assistance. LTRAP is not a party to this lease and does not perform as a landlord.
The lease agreements used by LTRAP – and subsequently entered into by all Section 8 tenants and landlords – have been reviewed by the LTRAP General Counsel for compliance with all federal regulations and state and local laws. While standard protections and guarantees for both tenants and landlords are contained in this lease agreement, both parties should look to applicable laws and the court system for any remedial action.
The Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract between LTRAP and the owner of the subsidized rental unit stipulates the specific performance required by both LTRAP and the owner, but it does not provide any rights for tenants beyond those provided under state and local laws. LTRAP may invoke certain remedies if a housing provider fails to fulfill the terms of the HAP Contract or the lease agreement, but such actions do not reduce or cancel in any way other legal remedies available to the tenant, nor do LTRAP’s actions mitigate or cancel a tenant’s obligations to fulfill lease obligations to an owner, nor those of an owner to a tenant.
I. Your Right to Organize:
The right to organize to secure one’s basic rights is fundamental to preserving a democratic society. Unfortunately, this is a right that has not always been granted willingly by those in power. The New Jersey tenants had to fight in the State Legislature and the courts to win tenants’ right to organize free of landlord retaliation. Today, it is a civil offense for the landlord to interfere with your right to organize. You should make it clear to your fellow tenants that they have an absolute right to organize and that they have nothing to fear. The following tenant laws and court cases protect your right to organize:
1. Tenant Reprisal Law (N.J.S.A. 2A:42-10.10). This law prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants for organizing or joining a tenants organization, or making good faith complaints to the landlord or public officials about a landlord’s violation of health and safety codes. Tenants can sue landlords who violate this law for civil damages
2. Crescent Park Tenants Associatio vs. Realty Equity Corporation of New York, 58 N.J. 98 (1971). This case gave a tenants organization the legal right to represent all its members and take action for them.
3. Troy Hills Village Inc. vs. Fisher et al., 122 N.J. Super. 525 (App.Div.1973). Upheld the constitutionality of the Tenant Reprisal Law.
4. Pohlman vs. Metropolitan Trailer, 126 N.J. Super. 114 (Ch. Div. 1973). The Tenant Reprisal Law covers the pursuit of any Constitutional right.
5. E.&E. Newman vs. Hallock, 116 N.J. Super. 221 (App.Div. 1971). Increasing a tenant’s rent can be seen as a reprisal.
6. Engler vs. Capital Management Corp., 112 N.J. Super. 445 (Ch. Div. 1970). Affirmed tenants’ Constitutional right to express themselves and to assemble. Also, non-renewal of a tenant’s lease can be seen as reprisal.
7. Silberg vs. Libscomb, 117 N.J. Super. 491 (Cty. Dist. Ct. 1971). Allowed the appointment of a Receiver for a building with major problems. This case also upheld tenants’ right to organize and the Tenant Reprisal Law.
The following are reasons the landlord can legally evict you. They are referred to as Causes of Action for Eviction:
Note: On items marked with * the landlord does not have to give you notice that eviction is being contemplated.
Non-payment of rent*
Willful or grossly negligent damage to premises
Violation of Rules or Regulations
Violation of Lease Covenants
Failure to pay rent increase*
Abating housing or health code violations
(Landlord) Permanently retiring building from residential use
Refusal of reasonable changes in lease terms or conditions
Habitual late payment of Rent
(Landlord) Conversion to Condominium/cooperative
(Landlord) Personal occupancy by owner or purchaser of unit
Occupancy as consideration of employment (Superintendent)
Drug Offenses – Criminal conviction/guilty plea
Assaults/threats – Criminal conviction/guilty plea
Theft of Property – Criminal conviction/guilty plea
Drug Offenses, Assaults/Threats, Theft of Property – by civil standards of proof (without criminal convictions)
In New Jersey, foreclosures have more than doubled in the last three years from a total of 23,044 in 2006, to 34,457 in 2007 and 47,989 in 2008. It is estimated that foreclosures could increase to as high as 60,000 in 2009, according to figures compiled by the NJ Administrative Office of the Courts. Unfortunately, many tenants are not aware they have a right to stay in a property that is changing hands as a result of foreclosure.
Tenants who rent properties that are subject to foreclosure are being kicked out of their homes when the bank takes over the property. According to the New Jersey Public Advocate’s Office this practice is almost always illegal in New Jersey. In 1994, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the New Jersey Anti-Eviction Act protects most tenants from eviction even when the property where they live is in foreclosure or has been foreclosed.
In other words, under New Jersey law, a tenant in good standing comes with the property when the property changes hands because of a foreclosure.
Moreover, the Unlawful Eviction Act of 2006 makes it an offense under the criminal justice code for a person who has been forewarned by a public official even to attempt to evict a tenant except by lawful court proceedings.
For additional information regarding tenants’ rights in New Jersey visit the following websites:
- Brochure: The Rights of Tenants During Foreclosure (in English)
- In Spanish
- NJ Department of Banking and Insurance Real Estate Commission
- New Jersey Tenants’ Organization
- Legal Services of New Jersey
IV. For Information Regarding Lakewood’s Rent Control Ordinance, please Click Here.
V. Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity:
HUD Revises Spanish Version of Fair Housing Brochure
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) has issued a revised Spanish translation of its "Fair Housing: Equal Opportunity for All" brochure. The newest Spanish version (HUD-1686-1-FHEO SPAN.Rev.2) is dated May 2006. The English version (HUD-1686-1-FHEO) is dated January 2006.
NOTE: LTO DOES NOT PROVIDE LEGAL REPRESENTATION OR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOUR SITUATION REALLY CALLS FOR AN ATTORNEY OR YOU WANT ONE, LTO CAN RECOMMEND ATTORNEYS WHO SPECIALIZE IN LANDLORD/TENANT LAW.