Your lease or rental agreement should spell out your landlord’s key rent rules, including:
- the amount of rent
- where rent is due (such as by mail to the landlord’s business address)
- when rent is due (including what happens if the rent due date falls on a weekend date or holiday)
- how rent should be paid (usually check, money order, cash, and/or credit card)
- the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent
- the amount of any extra fee if your rent check bounces, and
- the consequences of paying rent late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.
State laws in New Jersey cover several of these rent-related issues, including rules on late fees, the amount of notice a landlord must provide to increase rent under a month-to-month tenancy, and how much time a tenant has to pay rent or move before a landlord can file for eviction. Local rules may also apply, particularly in the more than 100 cities and towns which have rent control ordinances.
New Jersey Rules on Late Fees
Rent is legally due on the date specified in your lease or rental agreement (usually the first of the month). If you don’t pay rent when it is due, the landlord may begin charging you a late fee. Under New Jersey law, landlords must wait five days before charging a late fee, but only when the premises are rented or leased by senior citizens receiving specified benefits, such as Social Security, or by recipients of other specified government benefits, such as Social Security Disability.
Amount of Notice New Jersey Landlords Must Give Tenants to Increase Rent
New Jersey landlords must give tenants at least 30 days’ notice (in writing) to increase rent or change another term of a month-to-month rental agreement. If you have a long-term lease, however, landlords may not increase the rent until the lease ends and a new tenancy begins—unless the lease itself provides for an increase. Different rules apply in communities with rent control (discussed below).
Rent Increases as Retaliation or Discrimination
New Jersey landlords may not raise the rent in a discriminatory manner—for example, only for members of a certain race. Also, New Jersey landlords may not use a rent increase in retaliation against you for exercising a legal right—for example, in response to your legitimate complaint to a local housing agency about a broken heater.
New Jersey State Laws on Termination for Nonpayment of Rent
States set specific rules and procedures for ending a tenancy when a tenant has not paid the rent. New Jersey landlords must give tenants at least 30 days in which to pay the rent or move. If the tenant does neither, the landlord can file for eviction. Different rules may apply in communities with rent control.
Rent Control in New Jersey
New Jersey has no statewide rent control law, but some 100 cities and towns in New Jersey, including large cities such as Jersey City, Newark, and New Brunswick, have passed rent control ordinances that cover how much and how often rent can be raised. Local ordinances typically provide annual rent increases of a certain percentage each year and allow the landlord to apply to the local rent control board for increases above the annual amount—for example, if the landlord is not making a fair rate of return. For more information on rent control, including what rental units are covered and any special eviction protections, contact the municipal clerk in the community where your rental property is located.
For an overview of the subject, see the Nolo article on rent control.
New Jersey Guide to Tenant Rights
For an overview of tenant rights when it comes to paying rent under New Jersey landlord-tenant law, see http://www.lsnj.org/PDFs/TenantsRightsLSNJorg.pdf .
Legal Services in New Jersey is another resource on tenant rights and rent increases; see, for example, the Housing section of their website LSNJ Law for more information.
New Jersey State Laws on Late Fees, Termination for Nonpayment of Rent, and Other Rent-Related Issues
For state rent rules and procedures on issues such as raising rent and late fees, see N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:42-6.1.
For New Jersey laws on termination for nonpayment of rent, see N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2A:18-53, 2A:18-61.1, 2A:18-61.2, 2A:42.9.
See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.