Tenant trying to negotiate lower rent due after lease expiration

12 Replies

I have a case with a tenant that is trying to negotiate a lower rent due to delayed repairs/inconvenience of doing repairs. I do not agree with their counter-proposed rent.  The lease had already expired last month, and they have not signed a lease renewal form that I sent them 30 days before lease expiration. The renewal lease is for a full year.

According to NJ law:

1) Does a tenant's non-signing of the lease automatically turn into a month-to-month lease?

2) Do I have the right to not renew the lease, given that I do not agree to their counterproposal?

3) What time frame do I have to give them to vacate the premises?

Are there any other gotchas related to NJ state law regarding landlord/tenant lease agreements?

Updated over 2 years ago

I am looking to sell the property in the next year.

@Sandy S. I don't know NJ law specifically as that is not the market I am in. But I recently purchased my first property and just googled 'landlord/tenant laws in Arizona' and found the 'Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act' that I could download for free. I'm sure if you did a quick google search you could find something similar for NJ. It isn't the most exciting read but it does provide answers to all the questions you asked in this post. I spent one weekend reading the Arizona landlord/tenant laws cover to cover and definitely think it was well worth my time. Sorry I can't be more help to you specifically in NJ and good luck.

Brandon

Since it’s now month to month, you can terminate the lease giving them notice at least 30 days before the next rent payment is due. I’m in NJ (landlord and sitting for real estate license test this week). My textbook says, “to end a month to month tenancy, NJ requires one month’s written notice before the date the rent is due”. 

Your tenet thinks they have the upper hand, have them sign lease or start eviction proceedings. Unless they pay the full rent due as specified in the original lease on a month to month and you find that agreeable. As Brandon says, google NJ laws and see the requirements yourself. 

Below is my understanding of NJ tenant law and what I would do if I were in your shoes

@Sandy S.  

According to NJ law:

1) Does a tenant's non-signing of the lease automatically turn into a month-to-month lease?

If the landlord doesn't offer to renew the yearly lease, then the lease will automatically turn into a month to month lease. However, in your situation, it is a disagreement on the leasing price, I would think in this situation, your tenant should vacant the property by the date the lease is over. 

2) Do I have the right to not renew the lease, given that I do not agree to their counterproposal?

Yes, you do. Generally, for yearly lease, you need to provide them 3 month notice of new lease term or termination of the lease. For month to month, you only need to provide 30 day notice to terminate the lease. 

3) What time frame do I have to give them to vacate the premises?

In this situation, I would categorize your tenant is on a month to month lease and i would give them a 30 day notice to terminate the lease and move on if that is what you want to do.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

First thing you need to do is locate a copy of your state landlord tenant regulations. To operate a business without first knowing the regulations governing your business is wreckless at best. Find them, learn them then come back for clarification if required.

You should be able to find them on the web and be learning them before you have any dealings with tenants.

Once you learn your state regulations terminate this tenant according to those regulations. You are operating a business and as such to avoid ending up in court you must know the law.

NJ is an extremely tenant heavy oriented state. I have been a landlord for over 15 years in this state, and been through a few evictions with tenants. Important factors are the type of property (condo, 1 family, 2 family, etc) and the town it is located in. Many towns have rent control in addition to the state laws. 

According to NJ law:

1) Does a tenant's non-signing of the lease automatically turn into a month-to-month lease?

Yes, they become month-to-month

2) Do I have the right to not renew the lease, given that I do not agree to their counterproposal?

Unfortunately its not that simple, though they might not know that. If they don't know any better then you might  be able to tell them your not renewing and they might just leave. However, the law protects them so they can refuse to leave and then would need to file eviction papers. As long as they have done nothing wrong a judge could let them stay if they agree to pay the rent. There are other important factors here though. If they know enough to wait for you to evict them, they might know a bit more. For example, what town is this because different towns have different rent control laws and if you have violated any of the rent control law they might be legally entitled to a reduction. Other important factors that can vary by town included type of unit - condo, 1-family, 2-family, etc. If a multi-unit do you owner occupy the unit. 

3) What time frame do I have to give them to vacate the premises?

In what sense ? They can chose not to leave and then you have to file eviction papers. To properly evict you have to give them usually 30+ days notice, though most courts I have seen say its a 60+ day. That is, if the court doesn't allow them to stay should they pay at that point. 

Are there any other gotchas related to NJ state law regarding landlord/tenant lease agreements?

I own a few dozen rentals in NJ and have been at it for years. I find paying my attorney $200 dollars to handle the matter worth every penny. NJ is tenant leaning when it comes to disputes. Hire a lawyer, do it right get it done.

Just my 2 cents. If you need a recommendation for an attorney PM me and I'll give you their information. 

Tammer

So I understand that I can give them 30-days notice due to rejection of the lease renewal terms.  How does this work - if their lease is supposed to start the 1st, but I give them 30-days notice on the 15th  --- how much rent (per the terms of the original lease, not the reduced rent) do they still owe?  Is it 1.5 months?

All of this is in the NJ Truth in Renting Handbook
"Month-to-month leases renew automatically unless the tenant or landlord acts to end the lease. A tenant may terminate a month-to-month lease (or any rental agreement that does not have a specific term) by providing a written notice one month in advance of the time that the renewed rental period would start. For example if a tenant’s rent is due on January 15th the tenant must give the landlord notice on or before December 15th if the tenant wants to move out before the new rental period begins on the 15th of the next month. A landlord must follow the requirements of the Eviction Law and cannot refuse to renew a lease without good cause (See Causes for Eviction), except in the case of owner-occupied two and three family dwellings, transient or seasonal tenants."
https://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/codes/public...


Originally posted by @Sandy S. :

So I understand that I can give them 30-days notice due to rejection of the lease renewal terms.  How does this work - if their lease is supposed to start the 1st, but I give them 30-days notice on the 15th  --- how much rent (per the terms of the original lease, not the reduced rent) do they still owe?  Is it 1.5 months?

Originally posted by @Kelly Arthur :

Since it’s now month to month, you can terminate the lease giving them notice at least 30 days before the next rent payment is due. I’m in NJ (landlord and sitting for real estate license test this week). My textbook says, “to end a month to month tenancy, NJ requires one month’s written notice before the date the rent is due”. 

My lease says that rejection of renewal lease terms means that the tenant has to vacate the property at the end of the lease term.  Does that supersede NJ state law that moves it automatically to month-to-month tenancy?  

Or does it even matter, if the end result is the same --- having the authority to terminate a tenancy?

Originally posted by @Tania Patch :

NJ is an extremely tenant heavy oriented state. I have been a landlord for over 15 years in this state, and been through a few evictions with tenants. Important factors are the type of property (condo, 1 family, 2 family, etc) and the town it is located in. Many towns have rent control in addition to the state laws. 

According to NJ law:

1) Does a tenant's non-signing of the lease automatically turn into a month-to-month lease?

Yes, they become month-to-month

2) Do I have the right to not renew the lease, given that I do not agree to their counterproposal?

Unfortunately its not that simple, though they might not know that. If they don't know any better then you might  be able to tell them your not renewing and they might just leave. However, the law protects them so they can refuse to leave and then would need to file eviction papers. As long as they have done nothing wrong a judge could let them stay if they agree to pay the rent. There are other important factors here though. If they know enough to wait for you to evict them, they might know a bit more. For example, what town is this because different towns have different rent control laws and if you have violated any of the rent control law they might be legally entitled to a reduction. Other important factors that can vary by town included type of unit - condo, 1-family, 2-family, etc. If a multi-unit do you owner occupy the unit. 

3) What time frame do I have to give them to vacate the premises?

In what sense ? They can chose not to leave and then you have to file eviction papers. To properly evict you have to give them usually 30+ days notice, though most courts I have seen say its a 60+ day. That is, if the court doesn't allow them to stay should they pay at that point. 

Are there any other gotchas related to NJ state law regarding landlord/tenant lease agreements?

RE: 

2) Town is Berkeley Heights.  Property is a townhouse, and it is not rent-controlled.  Since I am planning to sell the property in the next year, I would like to avoid having to go through any legal route.  It probably would be preferable if I sold the property with them in it, as opposed to forcing them to leave, right?