Many landlords and tenants are not aware of the laws that govern there tenancy.
New Jersey State Law (N.J. Stat. Ann. 2A:42-10.10, 2A:42-10.12.2) prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants.
It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant in NJ who has exercised a legal right, including:
- Complaining to the landlord about unsafe or illegal living conditions
- Complaining to a government agency, such as a building or health inspector, about unsafe or illegal living conditions.
- Assembling and presenting your views collectively-for example, by joining or organizing a tenant union, or
- Exercising a legal right allowed by your state or local law, such as withholding the rent for an uninhabitable unit.
- Penalties for Violating the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA)
- A person who violates the Consumer Fraud Act must REFUND ALL MONEYS ACQUIRED by means of unlawful practice. In addition, a successful party is entitled to RECOVER TREBLE DAMAGES, ATTORNEYS' FEES and COSTS OF SUIT as an affirmative claim.
When a landlord simply refuses to make needed repairs, tenants often have little choice but to stop paying rent. This is all withholding the rent if it involves one tenant. If some or all of the tenants in one building or complex withhold rent as a group, it is called a rent strike. Withholding rent is perfectly legal and often can be the only way to force the landlord to make necessary repairs.
Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent. A tenant must ﬁrst notify the landlord of the situation and allow a reasonable amount of time for the landlord to make repairs or replacements. If a landlord fails to take action, a tenant may have the repairs made and deduct the cost from future rents. However, a landlord may take a tenant to court for nonpayment of rent. (63 NJ 460 (1973))
Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (water, heat, etc). If there are defects in the vital facilities and the landlord has not ﬁxed them after receiving proper and timely notice from the tenant, the tenant may either seek a decrease in rent by court action or simply withhold rent. A landlord may bring an eviction action for nonpayment of rent (114 N.J.Super.124, (1971))