New Jersey landlords must be well-versed with the procedures that detail when a tenant can break a lease early. Certain reasons provide legal protections against penalties while others don’t. In this post, we at Abacus Avenue Property Management will cover the legally unjustified and justified reasons for early lease termination.
Residential Lease Agreement in New Jersey
To avoid any conflict or confusion, it’s essential that a landlord has a detailed lease or rental agreement in place. So when your tenant signs the lease, you, as a landlord, must inform them of the consequences associated with unreasonably breaking a lease. A landlord is also required to know the tenant’s rights to legally break a lease early.
In New Jersey, your lease should highlight how much notice a tenant must give you when ending their tenancy. In the state of New Jersey your tenant must give you the following notice:
- 7 days’ notice if they rent weekly,
- 30 days’ notice if they rent monthly
- 3 months’ notice if they rent yearly
You should also include your responsibility as a landlord to re-rent the unit. Note that as a landlord in New Jersey, state law doesn’t require you to take reasonable steps to re-rent the space when a tenant decides to break the lease.
What’s more, a proper lease agreement should detail the tenant’s rights to sublet in New Jersey. In New Jersey, landlords may allow tenants in subletting the property. It’s your right as a landlord to also require tenants to request your approval before subletting the property to another interested renter.
To get your approval for a sublet, the tenant must formally make the request and send it by certified mail. It should be sent with a return receipt requested, highlighting the terms of the sublet lease agreement. The letter of request should include the following:
- Sublet term
- Name of the proposed subtenant
- The home address of the proposed subtenant
- Reason for subletting or leaving permanently
- Tenant’s new address during the sublease, if applicable
- The written consent of any co-tenant
- A copy of the proposed sublease
Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in New Jersey
The below reasons do not provide enough justification on their own to release a tenant from the lease. If a tenant decides to terminate the lease prematurely for any of the following reasons, they will not be provided with legal protection against penalties:
- Moving into a bigger or smaller space
- Moving in with someone else
- Bought a house
- Is relocating for work or school
- Is moving closer to family
Breaking a lease for any of the above reasons without court approval can have legal repercussions for tenants. If a tenant would like to break a lease for any of these reasons, they should ask the landlord to agree to a mutual termination.
Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in New Jersey
As a landlord in New Jersey, you must also know the justified reasons for a tenant to break a lease early.
Active Military Duty
Tenants who have been called for active military duty can legally break a lease under federal law. When a tenant is relocated due to deployment, they must mail or deliver a written notice to terminate the tenancy.
Tenants who are relocated due to a permanent change of station must prove that the lease was signed before receiving the military orders and will remain on active duty for at least the next 90 days. Note that termination of tenancy is not immediate. It will take 30 days after the beginning of the next rental period.
New Jersey tenants have early termination rights if they are victims of domestic violence. They can terminate their lease by providing you, the landlord, with a written notice.
If the renter or the renter’s child remains on the premises and faces the threat of serious physical harm, that must also be identified in the written notice. Specific conditions must be met including securing a temporary restraining order must be sent together with the written notice.
The Rental Unit is Uninhabitable
It’s a landlord’s responsibility to maintain a livable rental property. You should address any repair issues within a reasonable timeframe. As a New Jersey landlord, failing to fulfill your contractual obligation to provide decent and safe housing can be a justifiable reason for tenants to terminate their lease before it expires.
It’s your duty to keep your tenants comfortable and safe when staying at your property. Harassment by a landlord or the violation of their tenants’ privacy rights may be enough reason to break a lease.
In New Jersey, a tenant has the right to receive a “reasonable” amount of notification before a landlord can enter the rental premises. A landlord, therefore, doesn’t have the right to enter the residence without the consent of the tenant or a judgment from the Superior Court of New Jersey.
You are also not allowed to lock out tenants. A lockout occurs when the locks were changed by a landlord while renters are not home to refuse to let them enter the premises. This can also mean shutting off utilities as an attempt to force the tenant to move out. Make sure to take care of your New Jersey tenants and let them enjoy their right to quiet, peace, and privacy.
If you have any questions, please reach out to our team at Abacus Avenue Property Management today. We are a leading property management company in New Jersey and have been working with landlords and investors for decades.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regard to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.