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Thomas J Major
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Thomas Major’s Answers

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  • What information do I need to provide my landlord since he is selling my home?

    my landlord is selling the 2 family home I live in. He is asking for personal information to provide to his attorney. I don't feel comfortable with some of the information he is requesting. What basic information am I required to provide, such a...

    Thomas’s Answer

    Good Morning,

    I have a hard time understanding how your personal information is relevant to the sale of the property. I could see the seller providing a lease with an account ledger for the purpose of determining how the property performs as an investment. I suppose your income level is related to your ability to pay and tangentially related to whether the property is and can continue to perform. One thing is for sure: Your income has nothing to do with your rights under the Anti-Eviction Act. As for your name, you're going to have a hard time refusing to identify yourself to the new owner.

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  • Can I send a formal notice to the landlord without a signed copy of the executed lease?

    As an tenant, I have not received a written confirmation of the security deposit as well as a signed copy of the executed list. In NJ, the landlord has 30 days to provide the needed documentation, but it has been well over that. Without what is ne...

    Thomas’s Answer

    Good Morning,
    The Security Deposit law requires that the landlord inform you of the location of the security deposit, the type of account, the location of the nearest branch and other attendant information. If the landlord does not provide this information, the tenant can elect to apply the security deposit to rent.

    To do so, you first determine whether the building is controlled by this section of the Security Deposit law. If the property is owner occupied with two or fewer rental units, you cannot apply the security deposit to rent until after you have elected to invoke the Security Deposit law within 30 days of the inception of the tenancy.

    If the property is subject to the security deposit, you can invoke the "application of security deposit to rent" provision by notice to the landlord.

    Finally, it's unlikely not having a fully executed lease will limit your rights. There are ways of proving the content of the lease have been agreed to by the parties, whether or not the lease is executed (part performance etc.).

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  • How difficult is it to break a residential lease in NJ?

    I rent through an individual landlord in Jersey City (I live in the top two floors of the brownstone, and the landlord lives in the bottom two floors). I'm about to sign a new lease, and I have the option to sign a two year. If I do that, and deci...

    Thomas’s Answer

    Good Afternoon,
    Generally speaking, if you sign a two year lease you are responsible for paying the rent during that term (assuming the lease prohibits assignment or subletting). If you break the lease, your best bet is to negotiate an agreement with your landlord.
    If you break the lease and cannot reach an agreement, your landlord has a duty to make a good faith effort to re-let the property. He must do this because he has to make an effort to "mitigate his damages." If he's successful this may alleviate you from the balance owed under the lease, but the process is entirely out of your control.
    I would also note that you are not protected by the Anti-Eviction Act because you live in a an owner-occupied premises with two or fewer rental units. This means that you can be evicted at the end of the lease term on a one month for any reason.
    So, before signing the lease you should balance the long-term inflexibility of a two year lease with the long-term security of knowing you're landlord is committed to you for two years.

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  • Can my landlord search through and photograph my personal items? Can they let someone else / share the photos with a 3rd party?

    I was evicted and am locked out of my rental. I am waiting for him to allow me to enter so I can access and retrieve my personal property. He was seen entering the rental, going through my things and taking photos of my things and also gave acces...

    Thomas’s Answer

    Good Afternoon,

    In these circumstances, the landlord's actions are controlled by the Abandoned Tenant Property Act N.J.S.A. 2A:18-72, et. seq. This law is hyper technical and the Landlord must provide you with the notice required by the statute. As for the landlord's interaction with your property, generally speaking, a landlord can move the property or organize it so that it can be stored pending your retrieval of it. He can not sell it, throw it out or anything else until after he satisfies the requirements of the Act. I suspect the landlord is taking pictures of the personal property so that its condition immediately after eviction can be documented. The best thing to do is call your landlord, make arrangements to retrieve the property and close this chapter.

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  • Can I file suit against the coop and the tenants below me. Do I need a judge to sign off on these suits and what is the best cou

    For more than a year we have had odors emanating from the apartment below us (coop building and we are owners). It is confirmed that the apartment below is the source of the odors. The building and it attorneys refuse to take any remedial action e...

    Thomas’s Answer

    Good Morning,

    In case involving a co-op, your best bet is usually to involve the shareholder of the unit, not the tenants. From a strictly eviction standpoint, odors (unless they violate a term of the lease) are not grounds for eviction. Assuming the lease did contain some odor provision, it would be landlord's right to seek to the tenants eviction for violating the lease, not yours.

    But, co-ops are tricky creatures. Most proprietary leases are jammed packed with obligations of the shareholder to the other shareholders and the Corporation. These leases usually include catch all phrases that can cover every situation. A violation of the proprietary lease, if alleged by the Corporation, is a big deal.

    To really address this, you'd need to provide more information. You'd have to take a look at your proprietary lease, the obligations of the corporation to you and shareholders to the corporation and compare that to th tenant's activity. Something like this is almost always best settled without litigation.

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  • Help to remove my tenants and sell my property.

    I'm trying to sell a 2 family home, because I am drowning with the recent string of deadbeat tenants. I feel this cursed place has become an albatross and these low-lives take advantage of my kindness. My issue is: 1. I'm dying to sell. ...

    Thomas’s Answer

    Good Morning,

    It sounds like you have quite a history with these tenants. Each of the grounds for eviction you reference contain difference notice requirements.

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  • Am I a month-to-month tenant? If so, what are my rights?

    Lease originally signed 8/13. No terms of renewal given in accordance with lease by landlord following year, but I advised via email I wanted to stay another year. Email acknowledged and in 12/14, I got a 1 page "renewal" through 8/15, increasing ...

    Thomas’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Good Morning,

    For starters, you are entitled to more than 11 days notice before a tenancy termination date. If your landlord seeks to increase your rent, and only increase your rent (not make other lease changes), you are entitled to one calendar month of notice before the effective date of the increase.

    Also, when the duration term of your written lease expires, the lease automatically renews on its same terms other than the duration. This means that when your written lease expires, you are a month to month tenant under the same terms of your written lease other than the duration. This happens by operation of law and there's nothing your landlord can do (short of eviction under the Anti Eviction Act) to stop it.

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  • If we do not find an affordable place by May 31, 2016, what rights do we have as tenants to remain in the apartment?

    We got a notice that our lease will end May 31, 2016 and will not be renewed. The reason is valid due to our family now overcrowded the apartment of 1 bedroom. They (landlord) never made this a problem since 2009. We have paid our rent faithfully ...

    Thomas’s Answer

    Good Afternoon,
    Generally speaking your lease cannot be terminated simply because it expires. This is especially true if the building is not owner occupied with 2 or fewer rental units. In fact, your tenancy automatically renews on a month to month basis by operation of law (subject to the same terms of the written lease other than the length-term).
    It sounds like your landlord wants to start an eviction for violating the lease rules by overcrowding. This is a two notice case. It doesn't sound like your landlord served the required notices.

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  • Is the company legal to raise rent this high? Can we say or do anything to fight this? Who do we speak to?

    Hello I have a question my family and myself have rented a 2 bedroom apartment in a condominium for the last 3 years and recently last year another company bought our building now there are only 20 units in the building and the landlord has just i...

    Thomas’s Answer

    Good Evening,
    Although the unit may not be subject to a municipal rent control ordinance, the rent increase must still satisfy the Anti-Eviction Act. This means that you can only be evicted for failure to pay a rent increase is that increase is "not unconscionable." The burden is on the landlord to prove that the increase is "not unconscionable." There is a test that courts apply in deciding whether an increase meets this requirement. Given that the increase is $400, and it sounds like you haven't had a rent increase in a while, your best bet is reach a compromise with the landlord.

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  • Can we be evicted prior to the conclusion of our written lease, with no wrong-doing of our own? Should we fight this eviction?

    My wife and I are renting a house in NJ and are in month 8 of a 3-year lease. Our landlord's attorney recently sent a letter notifying us of an intended eviction so the owners could occupy the house, citing N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(l)(3) - and further...

    Thomas’s Answer

    Good Afternoon,

    Generally speaking, you cannot be evicted under 61.1(l)(3) when your lease is in effect. This is because 61.2 provides that "no action shall be instituted until the lease expires." So, while the landlord may meet the 61.2 notice requirements (strictly speaking), under these circumstances he's likely barred from filing the action.

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