Can New Jersey Renters Be Evicted During an Owner’s Foreclosure?
If you are given notice that your landlord’s mortgagee filed for foreclosure on the house or apartment building where you live, it is important that you know your rights as a tenant. First and foremost, you should know that you cannot be evicted simply because your landlord failed to pay their mortgage. Nor do you have to accept a buyout payment to leave the property quickly. Foreclosure does not eliminate any of a tenant’s rights provided under the law, and in fact, both federal and state laws provide specific protections for tenants of foreclosed properties. You can only be removed from the rental property via a court process.
Here are some of the responsibilities and rights of tenants in New Jersey in regard to rental property foreclosures:
- Initial notice — New Jersey law requires the new property owner to notify tenants of a building’s foreclosure and change of ownership by 10 business days after the sale, letting tenants know that they are not required to move. The notice must be in both English and Spanish.
- 90-day notice — Whether you rent month to month or have a long-term lease, a new owner must give you at least 90 days’ notice if they want you to vacate a property so that they can use it as their primary residence. If the remainder of your lease extends beyond 90 days, the owner must wait for the lease to expire and for the 90 day notice to end before they can take any action to evict you.
- Lockouts — A landlord or owner cannot lock you out of a property or remove your things from your rental unit without a court order.
- Utilities — It is illegal for an owner to shut off utilities or leave a space in disrepair as an attempt to get you to leave. If your landlord is responsible under your lease agreement for paying utility bills and stops paying those bills, you can have the utilities accounts transferred to your name and legally deduct the cost of the utilities from your rent.
- Payouts — A new owner may offer a payment to get you to leave your unit, but it is illegal for them to pressure you to accept the offer. In addition, they must give you at least five days to review the offer before requiring you to make a decision.
- Rent — Any rent increases that result from a transfer of ownership must be reasonable. If a landlord increases your rent drastically in an attempt to get you to move, you can contact the rent control board and dispute the increase in court.
At the Law Office of James C. Zimmermann, we provide focused legal guidance during foreclosure for tenants as well as for owners. If you need legal representation during a property issue related to foreclosure, call us at 973-764-1633 or contact us online. We have offices in Hackensack, Vernon, Wayne, Pompton Lakes and Nutley, New Jersey.