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Help I found out I'm in an illegal apartment what are my rights?

Newark, NJ |

I recently moved into a house paid rent to who I thought was the owner only to find out it's the tenant who lives downstairs! The actual owner showed up tore down the kitchen and said "you have to leave"! I have no money I paid a months rent to live in the house! What are my rights? With no kitchen I was forced to sell some of my stuff to buy food and now he has turned off the heat in the dead of winter what can I do? HELP!!

Attorney Answers 1


I am so sorry that you are going through this. In NJ, you can sue for all of the back rent you have paid if you were rented an illegal apartment. The Landlord is not allowed to turn off the utilities and you can seek damages for that. The biggest issue here is determining if the actual owner of the property was aware or should have been aware that this unit was rented to you. Absent any authority given to the tenant, that tenant was not allowed to rent that space to you.

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Sachin Ramesh Raval

Sachin Ramesh Raval


I agree with Mr. Cuan above. Whether the true owner knew you were staying in the home is imperative. Generally, a landlord should not use self-help, meaning he should not turn off the heat, change the locks, etc. If he wanted you out of the home, I would assume he would have to begin an eviction proceeding on the basis that he had no knowledge of your tenancy and that the tenant had no authority to rent the space to you.

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