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New Jersey state law (N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2A:42-10.10, 2A:42-10.12 2) prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants.
It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant in New Jersey who has exercised a legal right, including:
(1) complaining to the landlord about unsafe or illegal living condition
(2) complaining to a government agency, such as a building or health inspector, about unsafe or illegal living conditions
(3) assembling and presenting your views collectively—for example, by joining or organizing a tenant union, or
(4) exercising a legal right allowed by your state or local law, such as withholding the rent for an uninhabitable unit.
The kinds of retaliatory acts covered by New Jersey law include terminating a tenancy or filing an eviction lawsuit; increasing the rent; or decreasing services, such as locking the laundry room. If a tenant fails to request a renewal of a lease or tenancy within 90 days of the tenancy’s expiration (or by the renewal date specified in the lease if longer than 90 days), a landlord may terminate or not renew without a presumption of retaliation.
You should probably take pictures of your apartment and record every interaction you have with your landlord. Document everything. In order to evict you, the landlord must prove that you are breaking certain terms in your lease (I would recommend reading your lease to ascertain what your requirements are). As a tenant you are expected to maintain your premises according to the law and lease. Here are some of the rules the New Jersey Anti-eviction act lays out Grounds for eviction (N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1)
c. Damage or destruction of the landlord’s property
(1) The tenant’s conduct that causes the damage must be intentional or grossly negligent. (You can’t be evicted because of damage caused by a simple accident on your part.)
d. Violation of landlord’s rules and regulations
(1)Notice to cease must specifically and in detail describe the violation of rules and demand that the tenant stop it or face eviction. The notice should cite the rule that the landlord feels is being violated.
(2)The rules and regulations must be accepted by the tenant in writing or be part of the lease at the beginning of the lease term.
(3)The rules and regulations must be reasonable.
(4)Violation of the rules and regulations must be “substantial.”
e. Violation of lease agreement
(1) Notice to cease must describe the lease violation and demand that the tenant stop it or face eviction. The notice should also cite the number of the lease provision that the landlord feels is being violated.
(2)The lease must be reasonable.
(3) Violation of the lease must be “substantial.”
(4) The landlord must reserve “right of reentry” in the lease. If the lease does not contain these words, or other words giving the landlord the right to go back into the apartment if the tenant breaches the lease, then the right of reentry has not been reserved. (Even if a landlord reserves the right of reentry, the landlord must still go to court and follow all of the other legal requirements described in this manual before he or she can take back the apartment.)
You will probably need an attorney to defend your interests if your landlord does violate your rights. You can use some of the language in the New Jersey Statutes that I have provided to let your landlord know that you know your rights and will not hesitate to defend them.
See New Jersey manual of rights link:
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