It is a standard contract/lease agreement that sets the terms of a rental agreement between a landlord and tenant in New Jersey. It presents the rights and responsibilities of each party. Additionally, it protects from unforeseen events that can affect the rental, such as damage to property or eviction due to rent defaults. Finally, the lease agreement designates the tenant the right to use, possess and occupy the landlord’s property for a specific duration in exchange for regular payments, called rent.
A lease agreement is crafted after the tenant successfully applies for tenancy and negotiates and agrees upon the tenancy terms. Once completed under New Jersey laws and signed, the lease agreement becomes binding, and violation of its provisions is punishable by consequences indicated in the agreement or applicable laws.
This article discusses the different types of leases and the legal requirements of lease agreements in New Jersey.
Types of New Jersey Lease Agreement
There are plenty of different types of lease agreements in New Jersey that highlight different renting scenarios, even though, most of the time, they all follow a similar format. Lease agreements can vary depending on lease duration, type of property, terms of the agreement, and other factors.
Below are the diverse types of lease agreements to expect in New Jersey:
Association of realtors’ version
This type of lease agreement is executed when a realtor licensed by the New Jersey Association of Realtors performs the functions of renting property on behalf of the landlord, such as preparing marketing materials, advertising, screening tenants, and negotiating the lease. These services are offered at a commission.
Commercial lease agreement
A commercial lease agreement is used in the business industry where the property is leased to commercial tenants such as restaurants, retailers, offices, and more. A commercial lease agreement may include permission to use shared facilities like parking lots, laundry rooms, and elevators.
Month-to-month lease agreement
This is a rental agreement where the tenant has the right to stay in the property for no fixed period. The lease may be renewed automatically every month until either party terminates it. However, one must give reasonable advance notice before leaving, typically 30 days’ notice. This type of lease is executed under (§ 2A:18-56).
Rent-to-own lease agreement
A rent-to-own lease is used where the tenant can rent a unit for a specified period and buy the property at the end of the lease term. The rental term(s), amount of rent, and purchase price can be negotiated when this type of contract is signed.
Roommate lease agreement
A roommate lease agreement is executed by two or more individuals who occupy the same rental unit and share the obligation to cover rent. A roommate lease agreement outlines the rights and obligations of each roommate. This agreement permits free access to residents, common areas, and facilities, including the kitchen, living room, and garage, and limited access to utilities such as gas and heat.
Standard lease agreement
A standard lease is a generic agreement used to lease rental units. It contains fundamental leasing terms, but modifications can be made to fit particular circumstances. Ordinarily, this type of lease has a fixed move-in and move-out date that typically spans one year.
A sublease agreement is executed when the tenant wishes to rent the unit during the lease period to another person by the terms and conditions of their original lease contract. The original lease agreement term applies to the sublessee. Often, the landlord has to approve the sublease.
Four Required Disclosures
A New Jersey lease agreement is meant to protect the interest of the lessor and lessee. To do so, specific disclosures and clauses have to be inserted in the document. These clauses address different attributes of a lease.
Examples of disclosures required in New Jersey include:
Under (§ 46:8-50), if a property is located in a flood zone as per FEMA regulations, the landlord or realtor should indicate it in the agreement through a flood zone disclosure. This disclosure is needed from all landlords with commercial and residential property with more than two dwellings or three or more dwelling units (for the owner-occupied property).
Lead-based paint disclosure
Landlords and realtors are obligated to disclose if the property has any known lead-based paint hazards that may present a health risk to tenants. This disclosure is mandatory for any property built before 1978.
Truth in renting act
All lease agreements in New Jersey are required to have a declaration of the Department of Community Affairs Truth In Renting Act details according to (§ 46:8-45). However, this statement is not needed for residential property with two or fewer rental units or three or fewer rental units for owner-occupied residential property. This disclosure must be given 30 days after executing the lease.
Window guard disclosure
Under (§ 5:10-27.1), lease agreements should have the window guard notification or a completed New Jersey window guard notification form. This disclosure is needed for all rental units rented to tenants with children aged ten years or younger. This disclosure declares that the rental unit has window guards on all windows that can be opened and are not meant to be fire exits. Typically, the landlord is responsible for installing the window guards.
What are Landlord-Tenant Laws?
The landlord-tenant laws refer to laws that apply to all leases and agreements between a landlord and tenants in New Jersey. These laws aim to protect the rights, interests, and welfare of all parties involved in the lease agreement.
Standard policies, procedures, rules, and regulations applicable to the lease agreements in New Jersey include:
Security deposit laws
Landlords in New Jersey can charge a security deposit before handing over possession of the rental unit to the tenant. However, state laws dictate the following aspects of security deposits in New Jersey:
Maximum security deposit
Under (§ 46:8-21.2), the security deposit cannot be more than one and a half months’ rent. However, if the tenant resides on the premises for more than a year, then the landlord can request an additional 10% of the monthly rent as a deposit.
Security deposit return
Upon lease termination or expiration, landlords must refund the security deposit (§ 46:8-21.1). Therefore, the security deposit should be returned within 30 days after the lease agreement expires in New Jersey.
Landlord’s right of entry
The owner/landlord has the right to enter the rented property to inspect the premises and make repairs if the tenant agrees or when emergencies necessitate it. New Jersey doesn’t have statutes preventing or governing these entries. However, these entries should be made after a “reasonable notification,”, especially for non-emergency entries.
Tenants have the right to have habitable rental units. As a result, (§§ 5:10-14.4(a)) dictates that every rental unit within the property ought to be able to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m and a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. for the period October 1 to May 1 every year. This means utilities such as heating and cooling ought to be provided.
Crime insurance is needed in New Jersey. As a result, state laws stipulate that landlords are obligated to inform tenants about the federal Crime Insurance Program and provide them with information on obtaining such insurance. This guideline is stipulated under (§§ 46:8-39).
Rent due and late fee
The lease agreement should outline the rules, procedures, and policies concerning rent payment. However, some of the guidelines should abide by the provisions of state laws. For example, a grace period of 5 days is to be awarded to tenants who are senior citizens, receiving disability checks or Work First New Jersey benefits following (§ 2A:42-6.3) and (§ 2A:42-6.1). There are no laws governing grace periods for other tenants, and as such, they must abide by the due date indicated in New Jersey’s lease agreement – (§ 2A-42-6). Additionally, there are no laws governing the due date and late fees. These terms can be negotiated and outlined in a written schedule and signed by both parties.
Lastly, the lease agreement should discuss any applicable fees for NSF checks. The law states that NSF check fees cannot exceed $500 – (§ 2A-32A-1). Therefore, if NSF checks are not reimbursed 35 days after being returned, the landlord can impose a fee of $100 or thrice the original check amount, as long as it doesn’t exceed the state’s maximum fee.
Download New Jersey Lease Agreement template given below:
The State of New Jersey, through various laws, ensures that both parties abide by the rules and regulations which have been enumerated. Because of this, in New Jersey, each party must review their lease agreement before signing it carefully. However, as much as the state laws dictate how to execute the lease agreement, it is up to the landlord and tenant to communicate, make arrangements, and create guidelines that ensure a fruitful landlord-tenant relationship is formed and maintained.