The New Jersey security deposit law, the Rent Security Deposit Act, specifies
how a landlord must collect, maintain, and return a security deposit. Cite: N.J.S.A.
46:8-19. Under this law, a security deposit is money that belongs to the tenant but is
held by the landlord in trust. A security deposit is made to protect the landlord
against the tenant's failure to follow his or her responsibilities as stated in the lease.
This includes nonpayment of rent, or damage done to the apartment
by the tenant,
other than ordinary wear and tear.
The Rent Security Deposit Act applies to all rental units, including tenant-occupied,
single-family homes. The only exception is for rental units in owner-occupied
buildings that have no more than two units other than the owner-landlord's unit.
However, the law does apply even to tenants in these small, owner-occupied buildings if the tenant sends a 30-day written notice to the landlord stating that he or she wants the landlord to comply with the law's provisions.
The most a landlord can collect as a security deposit is one and one-half times the
Cite: N.J.S.A. 46:8-21.2. There are no exceptions to this limit. Sometimes a landlord will try to collect more security money from a tenant at the time the landlord raises the tenant's rent, in order to have the security keep pace with the rent increase.
The law now says that the most additional security money that a landlord can get
in any one year is 10 percent of the current deposit. Cite: NJ.S.A. 468-21.2.
Ask for a receipt when you pay the security deposit.
The receipt should include the date, the landlord's signature, and the amount of the security deposit paid, and that this money is for a security deposit.
They cannot collect but 1 security deposit. As stated, they can ask for an additional security deposit but no more than 10%.
I would inform the landlord that they conduct constitutes an illegal action and that if pressed will pursue your legal remedies including but not limited to filing suit against them.
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