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Is it illegal to rent a basement in Jersey City, NJ?

Jersey City, NJ |

I'm a tenant. I have been living in this house for quite sometime and someone told me that it's illegal to rent a basement. The house has 2 dwelling units excluding the basement. The basement has windows in all the rooms. We enter the basement through the garage.
How do I find out if it is illegal or not? If I report it, will I be evicted? If so, will I be given enough time to vacate to relocate?

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Attorney answers 2


The local building department would be able to tell you how the property is zoned. If a landlord is renting a unit that is not legal, then the landlord could be cited by the city. The city does not evict people (except in very exceptional circumstances), but the landlord could file papers with the court to have you evicted because it is an illegal tenancy and (presumably) he does not want to keep getting cited by the city. He will win that argument, but he cannot file the court papers without giving you 3 months notice AND he would have to give you "relocation assistance" equal to 6x the monthly rent.

This is just some very general information. If you need specific advice about your case, you should consult with an attorney.

Best of luck.

Dan Levy

This posting is just general legal INFORMATION and not legal ADVICE. Only your attorney can provide legal advice. If you would like actual advice about your particular case, please contact me for a consultation.


If it is illegal, you will be required to move. If you call the Building Department, they will be able to confirm whether your unit is legal.

Robert Ricci, Jr., Esq.
1743 St. Georges Avenue
Rahway, NJ 07065

Legal disclaimer: In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does it form an attorney-client relationship.

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