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Can I withhold rent payment if my landlord is changing the lease agreement

Cliffside Park, NJ |

I currently live with my landlord (the is the owner of the condo that I am renting). He is using one room, and I am using the other. His family is going to be visiting him for an extended period of time (2 week - 1 month or more). I told him that I will withhold rent, because in the lease contract it says guest can stay no more than 3 consecutive days. Plus I'm not getting any discount on my rent b/c of the additional ppl. Worried that he will change the locks or something. Do I have a valid point here?

Response to Mr Lefkowitz's post... I don't mind his family visiting...for me, that's not the point. The main issue that arises with his family, is that he put up curtains in the living room and is using it as his bedroom now. His family is going to use his room. So I am not able to use the common room such as the living room and balcony.

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Attorney answers 3


No, you don't. The lease binds you, not him.

The foregoing is not legal advice, and nothing in the foregoing shall be deemed to create an attorney client relationship. If you feel you need to speak with an attorney regarding your issue, it is recommended that you contact an attorney with expertise in your area of inquiry. The information related above is purely for informational purposes, and should not be acted upon without speaking with qualified counsel familiar with you specific situation and the laws related thereto.


Generally speaking, it's almost never a good idea to withhold rent. There's a whole host of reasons, but I prefer the most practical: there's no need to anger your landlord, especially since you live with him and have to see him every day. Also, there's nothing in your post to indicate the visiting family members will dispossess you of your room, your right to use and enjoy the common areas of the condo, or the right to use the common areas of the condo complex. At the most you might want to ask for a contribution for the electric or cable bill, but do you really want to be rude to your landlord's family? (see my second sentence, above.) All in all, this may be a good time to strap on your sneakers and explore some of the great outdoors.

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Adam Lefkowitz

Adam Lefkowitz


In response to the "Additional Information", my advice remains the same: I believe a practical approach is your best option. There's a reason attorneys are known as counselors. In addition to providing legal advice, we give practical advice; in other words, we give "counsel". For a more detailed response I suggest you speak privately with an attorney for further guidance. I wish you the best of luck.


It seems like you are looking for trouble. He owns the property. Unless your lease gives you the right to dictate how he uses it then you're out of luck. Withholding rent will enable him to file an eviction lawsuit, and could expose you to paying his legal fees for the eviction even if you settle the case. Pay the rent and he won't change the locks. There is no self-help remedies for residential evictions. The landlord must go through the court system. If you don't like this arrangement (he uses one room you use the other), then you may consider moving out when the lease term ends. While this is not the arrangement that you anticipated, he owns the property and can use it as he sees fit.

This answer does not constitute specific legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship between Glenn R. Reiser, Esq. or LoFaro & Reiser, LLP and the individual or company whose posts we are responding to.