Landlord / Tenant Law

I'm dealing with a real sh*tbrick of a landlord (private home rental).

Not sure what can be done about it, but I'm pretty sure there's something out there prohibiting him from screaming at his tenants (calling us motherf*ckers, threatening to evict us, etc.) and trying to change the terms of our lease as he sees fit.

Oh, let's not forget him doing tons of major renovations on the rental property without any permits.

Thoughts, anyone?

Margaret Q. Margaret Q.
Jun '13

Well, first...he can't change the terms of your lease as long as you have everything on paper...a contract that is signed, he can't change it until your lease it up.

villani villani
Jun '13

Also, while on the subject, I have a question. If there are two house on one property..the landlords and a rental house is it illegal to share the cable. The people in the rental has their own PSE&G account in their name but the cable/internet is in Landlords name and they split the bill. There is a cable running from the main house(landlords) to the rental house. Is this illegal if the rental house has a cable box?

villani villani
Jun '13

Move, file a police report for verbal harassment immediately, bring him to court and sue for rent paid due to trying to change the terms of the lease on you and for verbal abuse. So sorry, but I love your term "sh*t brick." Brilliant. Best of luck.

Jun '13

You should look up on the internet a document called Truth in Renting in the state of NJ. This explains the tenants rights, I own many rental properties and this is a requirement to be given to all tenants. But we do use realtors to rent our properties, not sure if it is required to be given to private renters. Check out the link below.

Good Luck.


lablover lablover
Jun '13

My thoughts are you should pay your rent and if you dont like living there move !

Jun '13

Here's my recommendation, Margaret. Before you concern yourself with landlord/tenant laws, what you need most is evidence.

To my knowledge, New Jersey is a single-party recording state. That means that you can legally record telephone calls and personal conversations, without advising the other involved parties that you are doing so, and such recordings can be used as (often very damning) evidence in criminal and civil cases.

For about $30 or so, you can buy a small (smaller than a typical cellphone) digital pocket recorder at Radio Shack. They are very easy to use, with a little bit of practice. Carry it in a pocket, and the next time you are confronted by your landlord, reach into your pocket and surreptitiously turn on the recorder. (Remember that you, too, are being recorded, so don't say anything threatening or provocative.) You can do the same on the phone, by simply holding the recorder next to the phone (often easier, if you use a speakerphone). Keep doing this until he says things that are clearly threatening or abusive. Do NOT tell him, EVER, that you are recording him.

Once you have the evidence you need, the best thing is to consult an attorney. Depending on what is said (such as threats of physical harm), it might be possible for you to sue your landlord. In the alternative, you can file a report with the local prosecutor and request that criminal charges be filed against your landlord (or merely request that they make a record of it, in case something happens in the future). Or, if done carefully and properly, you can advise your landlord that you have such evidence against them, but that may be dangerous for you.

As for doing work without proper permits, you can always report him to the town Construction Office (even anonymously). Keep in mind, however, that that may end up causing inconveniences for you, in one way or another.

As a final recommendation, make yourself very familiar with the terms of your lease, and what he can and cannot do. At the very least, keep detailed, dated and timed, handwritten notes regarding each violation. When possible, report/complain about to the landlord each violation of the lease, and record his responses. If you end up suing (even if only for something like getting back your security deposit), those notes can be entered as evidence.

And villani? Whether or not they can split a cable account, as you described, depends really upon the arrangement with the cable company. To my knowledge, normally, in a situation like that, the cable company would require two separate accounts.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
Jun '13

I agree with jerseycash5. Landlords generally don't threaten to evict good tenants...

LV Mom
Jun '13

LV Mom, does that mean that the verbal abuse Margaret is receiving from her landlord would be somehow justified if she is a bad tenant? I don't think the behavior described is acceptable, regardless.

Best of luck to you in resolving this, Margaret. Unfortunately I don't have any experience with these situations to give advice, but I have many friends with less-than-desireable landlords, so I know these things do happen.

watson24 watson24
Jun '13

watson24, there's three sides to every story. Landlords, especially those who own private homes and are willing to make "tons of major renovations", do not usually verbally abuse good tenants imo either.

LV Mom
Jun '13

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