Ask a Landlord-Tenant Question, Get an Answer ASAP!
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.
Is the tenant under a written fixed term lease or are they month to month?
Have you given the tenant a written notice to pay or vacate?
If not, is there some reason for not doing so?
If she is month to month then unless you had some type of agreement that you could charge extra rent if she violated the lease by getting dogs, then you can't do so. Everything that a landlord can charge for has to be spelled out in a written lease or allowed under state law.
So if you gave her a written 30 day notice that you were changing the terms of her lease to increase rent by $XXXX due to the dogs, then it would be legal to do so because you are modifying the lease legally.
But you can't just bump the rent if she is violating the lease unless you give her proper notice.
However, if she is 3 months behind on the rent, increasing the rent isn't going to help much because she already isn't paying the rent... So your realistic recourse here is to just go ahead and file to evict her in court and then see if she comes up with the money to get current. In NJ you don't have to give any notice prior to filing to evict as long as you haven't previously accepted late rent. If you have, then you have to give her a 30 day written notice to pay or vacate before you can file to evict.
As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...