New Jersey Residential Lease
New Jersey Residential Lease
Make Unlimited Leases for 1 Year
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New Jersey landlord? Create a residential lease for your state
New Jersey landlord-tenant law can get complicated. Before you rent out your property, be sure you have a lease or rental agreement that’s specifically designed to comply with New Jersey law. This Nolo lease takes into account state laws, and also points out where local laws may affect you, as well.
In your legally binding lease or rental agreement, you’ll set out all the key terms of the tenancy: who may occupy the unit, the amount of rent due, and when and how rent must be paid. It also states the amount of the security deposit and explains how you will use it for damage, cleaning, or unpaid rent. To set clear expectations, the lease explains your legal right to enter the unit, and your responsibilities for keeping it safe and maintained.
You can also include other terms: for example, restrictions on guests, allowed uses of the property, and your policies on late rent and bounced checks. Finally, you can make legally required disclosures about environmental hazards or other issues.
This plain-English lease or rental agreement comes with step-by-step instructions, clearly explaining what each clause means and how to fill in the required information. It includes links to local rent control boards and other government websites that provide helpful information for landlords.
Where can I find any relevant local laws?
In some New Jersey cities or townships, local ordinances or laws require certain language or information to be in a lease or rental agreement. Over 100 cities and townships have passed some sort of rent control. We cannot list local requirements for every locality in New Jersey, so to be extra careful, take a moment to find out whether local laws affect your agreement.
Fortunately, many cities and townships have placed their local laws online. To find out whether your local government has done so, go to www.statelocalgov.net., choose New Jersey, and look for your township or city. Or simply call your local city or county attorney and ask whether residential rentals are covered by local ordinances and, if so, where you can obtain a copy. If local law varies from state law -- by imposing a different interest requirement for security deposits, for example -- be sure to follow the local rule.
New Jersey landlords and tenants will also benefit from consulting the Legal Services of New Jersey's handbook, Tenants' Rights in New Jersey, and the booklet produced by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Truth in Renting (landlords must distribute this booklet to new tenants -- we'll remind you when you print and sign your agreement).
Are you making a lease or a month-to-month rental agreement?
This rental form allows you to create either a fixed-term lease or a rental agreement.
- A lease runs from one specific date to another, and typically lasts for a year.The terms of the lease cannot be modified midlease unless both parties agree. Notably, tenants and landlords must give at least one month's notice to the other before the lease ends, indicating whether they intend to abide by the termination date or renew the lease. Failure to give notice results in the creation of a new, month-to-month rental agreement.
- A month-to-month rental agreement self-renews every month, unless landlord or tenant gives the required amount of notice. Landlords may modify the terms of the agreement using the same notice period.
By law in New Jersey, landlords must give tenants at least one month's written notice to change or end a month-to-month tenancy. Tenants must give landlords at least one month's notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy.
Are you renewing an existing lease you made with Nolo?
If you've made a lease using this platform and have an existing account, you can renew the lease by duplicating the old lease and entering any changed information. For example, make sure the contact information for you or the manager is current. (To duplicate your form, open the original lease and click "Duplicate" in the blue menu bar.)
If you want to apply the security deposit you collected originally to the renewed lease, you'll have an opportunity to do so. You can either roll-over the amount you have on hand, or add to it (within the limits of the law, of course). Don't forget to follow the rules regarding disbursement of interest, and to calculate interest based on the new, higher amount if you've increased the deposit.
What is statewide eviction protection?
Under New Jersey's Anti-Eviction Law, most landlords may not end a month-to-month tenancy or a lease unless they have one or more of the 18 legally recognized reasons, called "just cause." Just cause includes, among other reasons, failure to pay rent, disorderly conduct that disturbs other tenants, and damage or destruction of the landlord's property. This means that unless the landlord seeks the rental for its own use or intends to remove the building permanently from residential use, as long as the tenant abides by the terms of the rental agreement, agrees to reasonable changes in the rental terms, and obeys state law, there is very little difference between a monthly rental and a set-term lease. Just cause does not apply to owner-occupied properties of two or three residences.
How do I establish a legal occupancy policy for this rental?
If you are renting to more than one tenant and want to avoid overcrowding, you may want to set an occupancy policy, which sets the maximum number of residents who may live in the rental. Your policy must comport with federal, state, and local fair housing laws. These laws prevent landlords from setting low occupancy rules as a way to discriminate against families with children.
A rule of thumb is to allow two residents per bedroom, but the Legal Services of New Jersey cautions that the overall size of the apartment or home is more important than the simple number of bedrooms. This means that a two-bedroom unit should be able to accommodate four persons; but if the unit is large and includes a den, for example, that could be used for a bedroom, a safe policy might be to specify six persons. Be sensible when applying this standard, taking into consideration the age of the residents. For example, newborns and infants who do not require much room. (On the other hand, do not require children of different sexes to have their own bedrooms; that's up to their parents, not you.)
What does "joint and several liability" mean?
Your rental document advises multiple tenants that each tenant will be responsible for paying rent and abiding by all the terms of the agreement. (If you're renting to a single tenant now, it puts this tenant on notice that tenants who join the lease later will also be subject to this rule.) The rule means that you can legally seek the entire rent from any one of the tenants should the others skip out or be unable to pay. It also gives you the right to evict all of the tenants even if just one has broken the terms of the lease.
What are the rules concerning security deposits?
The Rent Security Deposit Act applies to most rentals, including single-family homes. But owner-occupied properties of two or three units are exempt. However, tenants in these units may invoke the protections and requirements of the Act by giving landlords a 30-day written notice, at any time during the tenancy, telling the landlord that they want the landlord to comply with the law's provisions.
This rental agreement is designed to comply with the Act, to avoid the necessity of amending the agreement in the event that your tenant decides to invoke the Act.
How do I establish a legal late fees policy?
New Jersey state law does not require landlords to offer a grace period (a period of days before a late fee will apply), with the exception of certain senior citizens and others. You must allow for five business days' grace period if the rent is due on the first of the month when your tenant is:
- a senior citizen receiving a Social Security Old Age Pension
- a senior citizen receiving Railroad Retirement Pension (or any other governmental pension in lieu of Social Security Old Age Pension), or
- anyone who receives Social Security Disability Benefits, Supplemental Security Income, or benefits under Work First New Jersey.
Charging a late fee, whether or not you allow a grace period, will not affect your right to insist on payment on the day rent is due (senior citizens et al. excepted, see above). You can demand that tenants pay the rent on the first day that rent is late. If the tenant does not pay within seven days, you may file for eviction.
What are the rules regarding failing to take possession or breaking a lease?
Tenants who fail to move in as scheduled, or who break a lease midterm, must still satisfy other terms of the lease -- namely, pay rent. But landlords in New Jersey must make reasonable efforts to find a replacement tenant, and once that tenant moves in, the original tenant's responsibility for rent ends.
This general rule does not apply, however, to the following tenants who have leases:
- tenants who suffer a disabling illness or an accident resulting in a loss of income
- tenants 62 years of age or older who are accepted into an assisted living facility, a continuing care retirement community, or a nursing home, and
- tenants 62 years of age or older who do not already reside in low or moderate income housing and are accepted into such housing.
After providing specific documentation, qualifying tenants may break their leases with 40 days' notice. Similarly, if a qualifying tenant fails to move in at all, liability for rent would be limited to the notice period.
In addition, in some situations, tenants may break a lease due to the death of a spouse. Active service members who must leave due to changed orders, and victims of domestic violence may also break a lease, after following specific procedures.
What special rights do elderly tenants have with respect to pets?
In general, landlords may prohibit all pets, or restrict pets to certain types and sizes (exceptions apply to animals needed by those with legally recognized disabilities). Special rules also apply to properties with three or more rental units, where the tenancy is in a:
- senior citizen housing project, or
- senior citizen planned real estate development (where at least one occupant is 62 years of age or older; includes a surviving spouse if that spouse is at least 55 years old).
In this situation, landlords must permit domesticated animals unless they pose a nuisance (a threat to health or safety), or the tenant fails to follow reasonable rules and regulations concerning their care and behavior. A domesticated animal is a dog, cat, bird, fish, or other animal that does not constitute a health or safety hazard. For more information, see the Domesticated Animals in Housing Projects Act., N.J. Stat. Ann. Section 2A:42-103 and following.
What does the "covenant of quiet enjoyment" mean for both landlord and tenant?
Your rental document requires both landlord and tenant to refrain from violating laws and causing disturbances, and to maintain the tenant's right to "quiet enjoyment." In particular:
Landlord. Your promise to give the tenant "quiet enjoyment" means that you will preserve the ability of the tenant to use and enjoy the rented premises. Examples include not allowing garbage to pile up, dealing with a rodent infestation, and controlling a neighboring tenant on your property whose constant loud music makes it impossible for other tenants to sleep.
Tenant. This clause also forbids tenants from interfering with other tenants' or nearby residents' ability to reasonably enjoy their homes. For instance, a tenant who hosts loud, late parties has interfered with others' quiet enjoyment. Serious and repeated violations of the covenant of quiet enjoyment on the part of the landlord entitle the tenant to break the lease and move out. Such violations on the part of the tenant allow the landlord to terminate the tenancy.
What are the rules regarding repairs and alterations?
Your tenant may not alter the premises without your consent. The clause's "except as provided by law" language refers to the fact that in certain situations, tenants have narrowly defined rights to alter the premises, as long as they follow proper procedures (and always with notice to you). Examples include:
Alterations by tenants with a disability. Under federal and state law, tenants with a disability may modify their living space to the extent necessary to make the space safe and comfortable, as long as these modifications don't pose an unreasonable burden on you.
Satellite dishes and antennas. Federal law gives tenants limited rights to install wireless antennas and small satellite dishes.
Use of the "repair and deduct" procedure. Tenants in New Jersey have the right to repair defects or damage that make the premises uninhabitable or substantially interfere with the tenant’s safe use or enjoyment of the premises. The tenant must first notify you of the problem and give you a reasonable time to fix it. (Marini v. Ireland, 56 N.J. 130 (1970).)
Rent withholding. Tenants also have the right to withhold rent when landlords have failed, after adequate notice, to repair serious defects or supply essential services. (Berzito v. Gambino, 63 N.J. 460 (1973).)
How do I supply legally-required lead-hazard documentation?
With some exceptions, all landlords must complete the federally required Lead Paint and Lead-Paint Hazards Disclosure form and give it to prospective tenants. Your lease includes a clause in which landlords who are not exempt from this requirement state that they have complied with the rule (exemptions are explained in the Help sections of the clause). You can download the Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards from the EPA website. Fill it out by hand. Be sure to keep a copy for your records.
Note that if you're renting a unit in a multitenant building, the requirement that you disclose information includes records and reports concerning common areas and other units, when such information was obtained as a result of a buildingwide evaluation.
If you are not exempt, you will also need to give your tenant a copy of the EPA pamphlet, Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home, available at the EPA website.