Putting together a lease agreement for your New Jersey rental property is the best way to protect your investment. You’ll want to consult with a qualified attorney who can ensure that you are using a legally compliant and enforceable rental agreement. Property owners will often make the mistake of downloading a general template from the internet and using same without a determination as to particular issues applicable to the property or even as to New Jersey law. You need a lease that is specific to New Jersey and inclusive of all the important disclosures and expectations.
Today, we are sharing some of the basics that you should include in your New Jersey lease agreement.
Identify the Property and the Residents
Every lease agreement in New Jersey must include the names of the property owner and the tenant. You’ll want to provide the property address as well, with a description of what the property looks like. For example, you would state that it is a single-family home with two stories or a unit in a four-plex with street parking. List the names and ages of all occupants as well, even if they are not old enough to sign the lease. If there are pets, describe the pets and include a copy of your pet policy so the tenants have something in writing regarding responsibilities and expectations.
Establish Lease and Renewal Terms
The lease agreement must include the effective date of the lease and the day that it ends. Most leases are one-year in length, but yours could be 18 months or six months or any other timeframe acceptable to you and your tenant. In addition to the lease term, your agreement should also reference the procedures that each party must follow when the lease ends. The tenant should be required to notify the landlord within 30 or 60 days of their intention to move out, for example. Or, the landlord may want to offer a lease renewal 30 days in advance of the lease ending. Or, the lease could convert to a month-to-month agreement at the end of the term. Make sure your lease agreement is specific to meet your particular needs and requirements.
Security Deposit and Rent Collection Policies
Note the amount of security deposit that the tenants paid and specify when it will be returned. New Jersey law limits the amount you can collect and requires that you return the deposit within 30 days of the tenants moving out. Your lease must indicate how much was collected and what the tenant will have to do to ensure that he or she receives the full amount back at the end of the lease period.
Every lease agreement should include a rent collection policy. Make sure you are clear about:
- How much rent is due
- When it is due
- How it should be paid
- What the consequences may be for late or unpaid rent
If you have a grace period, make sure your lease reflects that. Your lease must include information about rental laws. For example, you need to give your renters 30 days of notice before you raise the rent. You also need to provide a Pay or Quit Notice before you evict for reasons other than non-payment of rent.
Include Rules, Regulations, and Expectations
Beyond the required information, your lease should include everything you want the tenant to know about the expectations you have while they are living in your property. Many landlords have non-smoking homes, which means tenants are not permitted to smoke inside the property. You might want to include limits to how long guests can stay in the property and the number of cars that can be parked in the driveway. Make sure you are detailed and you cover everything because this is the first place you and your tenants will go if there’s ever a dispute.
Your lease agreement must comply with federal, state, and local fair housing laws. It must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. There is a lot to consider when you are drafting a lease agreement for your New Jersey property and you do not want to leave any of it to chance. This is the contract that can best protect you and your investment.
If you would like some help writing or reviewing your lease agreement, please contact us at Robert A. Gleaner, P.C. Our law firm works with landlords and rental property owners like you throughout New Jersey.