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Is any prospective tenant responsible for signing a lease and not moving in?

Jersey City, NJ |

I have a signed lease wih a prospective tenant. Since it's a co-op he got an approval from the Board and was supposed to give a security deposit and first month rent next day. He never showed up and never moved in. The property has been vacant since then.
Is that person responsible for sighning a lease and can I also recover $ 300 that I payed to the Board?

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

I agree with Mr. Gutman. Whether a tenant moves in is not material to the discussion. Provided the tenant's failure to take possession does not relate to any act of the landlord (for example, withholding the keys), the tenant is responsible for payments as outlined in the lease. Keep in mind, NJ landlords have an obligation to mitigate their losses by looking for a new tenant to occupy the space. Consult with a real estate or landlord / tenant attorney as son as possible to discuss the specifics of your case.

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I'm only licensed to practice in CA but my contract experience tells me if someone refuses to perform on a valid contract they are in breach of said contract and the non-breaching party (you) can seek an appropriate remedy.

Here it seems you could seek an injunction forcing him to perform on the contract (which I do not recommend) and/or damages which includes the $300 you paid the Board. This is most likely a small claims matter. Before filing a S.C. claim inform the breaching party of the cost he caused you to incur due to your reasonable reliance on his promise to pay rent and move in. Therefore the detriment (costs) you have incurred are his responsibility and if he refuses to reimburse you, you will be forced to seek recovery through the court.

Good luck and it is always wise to consult a local attorney before taking legal action.

-Michael R. Juarez Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216 San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different jurisdictions.

Sandra A Joseph

Sandra A Joseph


In NJ it is in Special Civil Part - L&T not small claims.


Normally, whether or not the tenant moves into the leased premises, he/she is obligated to pay rent under the terms of the lease. Although you are obligated to mitigate your damages (i.e. relet the premises as soon as possible) the tenant is usually responsible for all rent as it becomes due monthly as well as your costs including that to relet the premises. All of the above being said, I strongly suggest that you have an attorney review the lease to confirm the above and determine what rights you have in case of a breach of lease. Good luck.

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Next time get thefirst month's rent when the lease is signed. You would not have to return the rent, but you would have to return the security deposit. Quite frankly if you hire an attorney to get back your $300 for board approval it will cost more.