Hoboken Legal Beagle – 4/29/2008
Here’s today’s question about month to month leases.
The “rules” of month to month leases
“Dear Legal Beagle,
I have a month to month lease. I have a large apt where I pay rent lower than the market rate. My landlord gave me 60 days to move (30 more than usual) because he will renovate to occupy the house himself.
Am I allowed to ask my landlord for moving fees or ask him to pay the realtor fees as it seems that, 1. I won’t get such a sweet deal anywhere in Hoboken and my rent will increase by several hundred dollars and 2. I may not find a decent place without a Realtor and a broker fee?”
Hoboken411 Legal Beagle says: The whole “month to month tenancy” concept generates more questions in my practice than any other Landlord / Tenant issue. It is not simply answered because there are so many variables that must be addressed in each particular fact pattern. This question as it stands does not provide me with some essential information but that has not stopped me from trying to answer a question before and it wont stop me now.
The State of New Jersey allows tenants who live in “owner-occupied premises with not more than two rental units ” to be evicted without cause upon one months notice. This exception to the “Fair Cause for Eviction Act” was created based on the premise that if an owner lives in a two or three unit building, the nature of the building is more personal than business and the owner should not have to live in the same building with tenants that are objectionable for any reason, not just for the reasons for eviction set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1.
On the flip side, if you live a two unit building where the owner does not reside, or in a four unit building in which the owner does reside, you cannot get evicted except for good cause. Now, if you live in Hoboken where every single unit is rent controlled, (except mulitstory buidlings that are exempt from municipal rent control) a month to month lease is really a lease for life except if your landlord converts your unit to condo, you then must be given three years notice to leave and the landlord must comply with a host of regulations before you can be evicted but you are even protected from a condo conversion eviction if you are disabled, elderly or live in Hudson County and have an income less than approx $50,000 per year.
READ THE REST OF THE FLYING BEAGLE’S RESPONSE AFTER THE JUMP…
(Legal Beagle, continued…)
But as expected, what might seem like a clear cut law, can be confusing as applied. What about a person who owns a condominium unit in a 10 unit building. Well, under those circumstances the landlord must give the tenant notice in the lease that the unit is a condominium and that at the end of the lease term the tenant would have to vacate if sold to a person who intends to personally occupy the unit.
If you live in a four unit building the landlord cannot simply, combine two unit and then declare the building exempt from the “fair cause for eviction act”.
The Landlord cannot simply move in a son or daughter to a unit and say it is owner occupied unless the child’s interest is realized pursuant to a legitimate tax savings plan or some other real shifting of ownership.
Now,not that I want to stir up all my wonderful haters, but the question:
“Am I allowed to ask my landlord for moving fees or ask him to pay the realtor fees as it seems that, 1. I won’t get such a sweet deal anywhere in Hoboken and my rent will increase by several hundred dollars and 2. I may not find a decent place without a realtor and a broker fee?”
indicates a conceptual view of the nature of the landlord tenant relationship that it should to be addressed. First the question “Am I allowed to ask my landlord” uses a strange choice of words. Why use the word allowed? There is no prohibition in asking your landlord anything, and it indicates some sort of oppressive relationship, best illustrated by Oliver Twist, bowl in hand asking the task master “Please, sir, I want some more” It is not a question of “allowed” it is a question of rights and obligations.
The question should be “Is the landlord obligated by law” and then ask whatever you think might be your right.
Then the comment “I won’t get such a sweet deal… my rent will increase..may not find a decent place without a realtor or broker fee” indicates that this person believes his landlord has some sort of obligation to him just because his sweet deal is coming to an end. It’s a childlike response to an adult situation.
When as a lawyer you deal with single mothers facing eviction after their husband left them alone without child support, who must wake early to take the kids to child care, then go to work all day long, then come back pick up the kids, go home and make them dinner and then do it all over again the next day, you lose a little patience with those single spoiled people who believe life owes them a sweet deal. Of course the person who asked this question is not a bad person but its the attitude of entitlement that I question.
And to now fully digress: and to flame the fires of controversy that make Hoboken411 so great, I believe the nasty ad hominem commenters, are pretty much impotent Willy Lomans full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Of course most of the commentors are interesting and informative, which make the nasty ones seem even sillier hiding behind their pseudonyms, (but I have nothing negative to say about you Katie_Scarlet, you are just another opinionated lawyer, who like me, cant bear inanity, and your negative comments about my advice may of course be valid, in fact how many lawyer are there that go around giving providing legal information in the voice of a flying beagle.)