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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 33757
Experience:  Attorney for over 15 years, landlord 26 years
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Story problem with landlord

Customer Question

long story problem with landlord
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The story:
I have lived in my current apartment for probably 13 years max. During that time I never not once missed my rent payment and it was never late; always on time. I rent the second floor in a 3 story Victorian house in Montclair New Jersey. The landlord lives on the first floor. Landlord is a female.
Well I did miss my rent payment(s) starting in Dec 2014 due to an unfortunate event in my life. On August, 2013 I was diagnosed with a life-ending Cancer. At that time I had to start chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy. The therapies lasted until March 2014. This was followed by two surgeries beginning in May of 2014. Unfortunately, in April of 2014 I was laid off work. During the therapies I was allowed to work from home. By December 2013, I had run totally out of money and was not able to pay December rent because I had run totally out of all money by that time. My type of cancer required me to recover from both the affects of the Chemo and from the surgeries before I could start looking for work. My surgeons and oncologists said it could take up to a year for recovery.
However, by November, 2014 I started to look for work eventhough I was not completely recovered.
The landlord appeared to understand my dilemma for the first two months ( December and January(2015). I assumed that she was aware of how I was trying to find a job as soon as possible and to once again start paying rent and to catch of with whatever back rent was due.
However, after the second month of seriously looking for work and unable to pay the rent she pasted an eviction notice on my door. And then proceeded to go into rages whenever she saw; screaming out loud for the rent in such a way that all the neighbors could hear the chaos.
Luckily the heavens opened up and I was able to land a job. I told the landlord that I would do everything in my power to pay up all the back rent that owed and also pay my currently monthly rent.
However, by this time, End Of March 2015, she was going into rages regarding the rent every day. So I got a job, and was able to start paying down the rent, I think in April 2015. Though it was difficult financially for me, I tried to pay her 700 dollars every three weeks and keep the fourth sequential week paycheck for other bills. It appeared that this was managing to keep her calm for the rest of the summer. I slowing got caught up with all my back rent and was almost about to get completely caught up by February 2016. I was , in fact, very happy that I was about to recover from at least one of the financial obstacles that my being laid off and being sick had brought upon my life. But strangely enough, my landlord started to go text me continuously again. I could not understand why she was doing this since I had so obediently deposited 700 dollars every three weeks into her bank account. It was perplexing to me. Surely she knew I was doing my best to finally get that debt behind me.
My normal rent was 1,525 dollars per month. I was paying 2,100 per month to get caught up with the 4/5 months of missed rent payments. I was very upset that she was starting to bother me every day and would even be waiting at the door to argue with me when I arrived home from work. I could not understand why suddenly she was behaving this way. After all, I was paying her 2100 every 3 weeks.
I was so busy trying to get back into the work force and stay there that I didn’t even check the balance to see where I was in the rent payments/back payments. However, since she started her raging again I got all the transcripts from the bank to see where I stood. I did make one mistake doing my calculations. I counted the total rent I owed from December 2014 until present Feb 2016 as 14 months but it was actually 15 months. This was a mistake I made, maybe due to stress; not sure. But if it were 14 months, that means I was totally caught up … actually even ahead. So at this point, I thought I was finished with all those back paymemts and proceeded to go into my regular 1525 monthly payment in March 2016.
To make a long story short at this point, my land lord went totally bizerk. She confronted me at the door, screaming, and threw a notice at me saying that I had to vacate the premises by the end of the month and that I would be charged 100 per day for ever
day after the end of the month that I remained in the apartment. I pleaded with her saying that I am totally caught up with the payments now. But because of my miscalculation of 1 month, that was not the case. I still owed a little more in back rent. I told her that I could pay that up by once again going on the 3 week-700 dollar payment. But she raged that she was too stressed and that I had to go. I payed her 1,400 this month and told her I would pay her 700 per week for the next two weeks and would continue to that 3 week sequence until I was paid up. This would only
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 9 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney whowill try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone whocan. There may be a slight delay in myresponses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply,but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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I have read your comments, but am not quite sure what your legal question is?.

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So you still owe back rent?

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Has the landlord given you a written 30 day notice to pay rent or vacate?.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
the landlord handed me a letter telling me to vacate the premises in 30 days when I came home from work monday.
Then later she said .. well .. maybe we can talk about it in a few days ..
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She started harrasing me once I was about to get all the back rent caught up. so I am wondering what is up with this. What types of rights I have regarding this. I struggled all summer , from march 2015 until now to finally pay her off. And once I am about to finally pay her off .. she goes all crazy on me like this .. something does not smell right.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I am wondering what I should do before the 30 days runs out.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 9 months ago.

If she has given you a 30 day notice to pay or vacate, unless you get her to rescind it in writing, then that means that at the end of 30 days she can file an eviction action in court and proceed to evict you. The fact that she has waited this long wouldn't somehow prevent her from evicting you if you are still behind on the rent.

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But if you can get everything paid up within that 30 days, that would put you back in compliance and she wouldn't have any legal grounds to evict.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
She thinks that I view her as a bad person and I think that really makes her angry. So I think she is doing this in part because she is angry. Can she evict just cause she is angry
Expert:  barristerinky replied 9 months ago.

Legally in NJ a landlord must have "just cause" to evict someone and that is limited to 18 reasons.

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1) non-payment of rent, 2)disorderly conduct disturbing other tenants, 3) damage or destruction of the landlord's property, 4) violation of landlord's rules and regulations, 5)violation of lease agreement, 6) violation of a public housing lease provision prohibiting illegal use of drugs, 7) not paying a rent increase, 8) housing or health code violation requiring eviction, 9) landlord removes the property from residential use, 10) not accepting changes in the lease, 11) habitually paying rent late, 12) units converted to condominium or cooperative, 13) owner move-into unit, 14) tenant loses job that included the unit, 15) conviction of a drug offense, 16) conviction of assaulting, attacking or threatening landlord, 17)engaging in drug activity, theft, assaults or threats against landlord and 18)conviction of theft.

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So legally speaking, no, the landlord couldn't evict you just because she didn't like you.

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If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided so I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.

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thanks

Barrister