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Hollermtm698

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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello, I am a landlord in NJ. I entered into a lease agreement with a tenant with 500 credit score this May (I know...I wouldn't be at this stage if I didn't buy his story...). Here are few things I am facing right now:  

1. Did not have a security deposit on hand. (Because of his low credit score, we agreed he shall pay 2 mos of deposit. However, I made a huge mistake that took a PERSONAL CHECK from him. NEVER EVER!!! And of course, it was a bad check. Later on, I found out NJ law of 1.5 mos deposit rule, so I sent an amendment to him but still not get the deposit.) 

2. Late payment of rent. (He paid first half month of rent - we start in the middle of the month. Then he fails to pay every month since June. I had to go to court every month to get rent + late fees. The judge also decreases the late fee stated in the lease - I charged 10% and judge cut to 5% even if the rent was late for almost 30 days.) 

3. No rental insurance. (As you may already know, the tenant need to have rental insurance in NJ. My tenant gets me the policy before he moves in. But later on, I got letters from the insurance company for the nonpayment of premium - not surprised at all.) 

Currently, I am working on 2 type of filings with the court. First is the non-payment of rent which I do every month. However, he always paid on the court day so he got to stay. Second is eviction filing for breaching the lease (no deposit, no rental insurance, late payment every month). So far I delivered the Notice to Cease and Notice to Quit to him. But I think I have to wait for 30 days (count from NTQ) to file the complaint to the court in order to evict him. 

My questions are
a. Am I on the right track in terms of evicting him and get money back? Any better way of handling my case? 
b. The lease agreed 2 mos of rent for early termination. If he ended up getting evicted in September lets say, am I be able to get Sep + Oct Nov rent? Or the eviction is not considered an early termination? 
c. He proposed early termination with one month rent in oral today when we meet at court, I told him to put it in writing then I will decide. Should I pursue a friendly settlement with him? It's very hard for me to agree to anything he proposed at this point because there is no trust built. (Haven't got his written notice anyway)
d. Quote from NJ law: "A landlord cannot file a complaint in the landlord/tenant section to collect the unpaid rent after receiving a judgment for possession." How can I get the money he owes me after court evict him? Am I be able to get all the money back (rent of eviting month + 2 mos rent of early termination + late fees) when receiving a judgment for possession at court day? I really don't want to deal with chasing former tenant. 

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or experience sharing. 

AccidentalRental

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Posts: 122
Reply with quote  #2 
It sounds like you already know a lot about the NJ eviction process.  Have you done all of the non-payment filings yourself? 

Here are a couple of detailed resources that might answer some of your questions.

NJ Eviction Process
Ways to Evict A Tenant in NJ

I'll give you my thoughts on your questions:

A. It seems you are on the right track.  You can also now file for eviction based on Habitual Late Payments.  This also requires a 30 day period from Notice To Quit.  Gather all of your paperwork (notices, texts, emails, etc.) to show the judge the pattern of late payments.  Even if he shows up in court with the money this next time, you can still potentially evict on grounds of Habitual Late Payments and Violation of Lease Covenants.  You will need a Right To Re-entry clause in your lease to successfully evict under these provisions.  Be sure your lease has one before attempting.

B. Early Termination is an agreement between LL and T to end the lease.  An eviction is not the same.

C.  Always try to settle if you think you can.  The court will try to get you to settle before you see the judge.  Presumably that's what happened every month when you sought eviction for non-payment?  You will have a hard time collecting any money from this tenant.  But he seems to be able to come up with the rent +5% every month so maybe he will give you last month's rent and get out ASAP?

D.  You cannot collect until you have received a successful eviction judgement.  You need to file for collection under a different part of the Special Civil Court.  The clerk should be able to point you to the next steps and forms.

I would strongly consider getting a lawyer at this point.  What county are you in?  I might be able to refer you someone experienced in NJ evictions. 

Good luck!  Please keep us posted.

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