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Dimitry Esquire
Dimitry Esquire, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  JA Mentor, multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation & admin
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What rights do tenants have once a basement apartment has been

Customer Question

What rights do tenants have once a basement apartment has been found illegal and housing inspector has issued 30 day notice to vacate? The rent is for a room, all inclusive, very low cost.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The property is located in West New York, New Jersey. I am the landlord and I have heard that if tenants don't want to voluntarily move even after inspector has ordered removal of tenants, that they could legally remain living in the property, rent-free for up to 6 months. And that I would even have to return rent money to them. Is that true? There is no legal written agreement. Verbal agreement was month to month to two different people. One of them is behind 2 months.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
What should I do to comply with housing inspector and have these people removed from the property withing the 30 days granted by the town?
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you. I am New Jersey licensed and will do my best to help.
To answer directly, once property is deemed to be 'illegal' as far as a rental unit, the landlord is barred from collecting rents. In addition the tenants can sue to get back up to 3 months back rent from the landlord. The part about returning rent is very true. Now, as far as them leaving, if they refuse to leave you would still need to serve notice and take them to court and obtain a formal eviction order--they cannot be forcibly removed, just ejected by the sheriff once you are able to obtain the writ of possession. The fact that there is no written agreement is irrelevant, if they can prove that they made payments, they can demand their return, and you as a landlord cannot sue to get back-rent from them at this point.
Dimitry, Esq.

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