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MDLawyer
MDLawyer, Lawyer
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 6128
Experience:  10 years in legal practice. Over 5 years in advising clients on landlord/tenant issues, including on a pro bono basis.
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I've never tried this online but seems like a good idea. My

Customer Question

Hello, I've never tried this online but seems like a good idea. My cousin has a consignment/estate sale business. She lives in a small NJ town, Columbus. She and the landlord had a verbal agreement to rent the space for 4k per month (which I think is high anyway but that is irrelevant). She got sick and subsequently behind on rent. He locked the doors in March with all of her merchandise in it. She repeatedly tried to call and contact him to correct the situation after he was well and he finally came online yesterday and said he wants 30k to open the doors so she can sell some of her stuff. My thought it that it is totally illegal to deny her access to make money and then expect full rent. Its a small town and the owner is a wealthy dentist and well connected in town. My cousins mother, just lost their home to foreclosure and my cousin has a ton of merchandise at her mothers property so it is urgent to negotiate a deal with the landlord so she can begin making money again. She and her mom lived on the farm together raising horses and other livestock so now my cousin will need to relocate to find a home too and really needs access to her goods. Thanks
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  MDLawyer replied 2 months ago.

Hello and thank you for using the Just Answer website. I am sorry to hear about your cousin's situation. Are you asking whether the landlord's actions are legal?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I am. I can understanding asking her to vacate if she continued to not pay but denying her access to remove her property doesn't seem right to me.
Expert:  MDLawyer replied 2 months ago.

Thank you for the clarification.

First, commercial leases and tenant leases are covered by different laws and standards. That being said, however, self-help by a landlord (locking the doors) is generally frowned upon in NJ by courts since the state does have laws in place to deal with non-paying commercial tenants. While there is no statute that explicitly outlaws self-help in a commercial lease, courts in NJ have stated that it is a violation of a tenant's rights. NJ law does require that a landlord go to court and get permission from the court to lock out the tenant and the lock out must be done with assistance of the constable.

Please let me know if this has answered your question.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
sort of, I'm looking for next steps. Do we need to hire a lawyer? Should we try to work out a more equitable solution and follow-on lease for the future? If you suggest an attorney, do you do this sort of work? Thank you.
Expert:  MDLawyer replied 2 months ago.

Your cousin would need to take the landlord to court to grant her access to the building and her property.

Expert:  MDLawyer replied 2 months ago.

Unfortunately, this site is for informational purposes only. We cannot give legal advice or take on clients.

Expert:  MDLawyer replied 2 months ago.

If you give me the county in which your cousin lives, I can suggest a lawyer referral service in her area.

Expert:  MDLawyer replied 2 months ago.

I have not heard back from you. Can you please let me know whether you need any additional information, Deanne. If you do not and I have answered all of the questions you have within the bounds of professional ethical rules, please be so kind as to leave me a positive rating as that is the only way that we experts on Just Answer get credited for the time spent assisting you since we are not JA employees. If, however, you need additional information, just reply back and we can continue our conversation.