ASSEMBLY, No. 2188

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED JANUARY 27, 2016

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman† TROY SINGLETON

District 7 (Burlington)

Assemblyman† JAY WEBBER

District 26 (Essex, Morris and Passaic)

Assemblyman† JAMEL C. HOLLEY

District 20 (Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Permits landlords to take actions after death of tenant in certain situations.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act concerning deceased tenants and amending P.L.1974, c.49 and P.L.1999, c.340.

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.††† Section 2 of P.L.1974, c.49 (C.2A:18-61.1) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 2.††† No lessee or tenant or the assigns, under-tenants or legal representatives of such lessee or tenant may be removed by the Superior Court from any house, building, mobile home or land in a mobile home park or tenement leased for residential purposes, other than (1) owner-occupied premises with not more than two rental units or a hotel, motel or other guest house or part thereof rented to a transient guest or seasonal tenant; (2) a dwelling unit which is held in trust on behalf of a member of the immediate family of the person or persons establishing the trust, provided that the member of the immediate family on whose behalf the trust is established permanently occupies the unit; and (3) a dwelling unit which is permanently occupied by a member of the immediate family of the owner of that unit, provided, however, that exception (2) or (3) shall apply only in cases in which the member of the immediate family has a developmental disability, except upon establishment of one of the following grounds as good cause:

†††† a.†††† The person fails to pay rent due and owing under the lease whether the same be oral or written; provided that, for the purposes of this section, any portion of rent unpaid by a tenant to a landlord but utilized by the tenant to continue utility service to the rental premises after receiving notice from an electric, gas, water or sewer public utility that such service was in danger of discontinuance based on nonpayment by the landlord, shall not be deemed to be unpaid rent.

†††† b.††† The person has continued to be, after written notice to cease, so disorderly as to destroy the peace and quiet of the occupants or other tenants living in said house or neighborhood.

†††† c.†††† The person has willfully or by reason of gross negligence caused or allowed destruction, damage or injury to the premises.

†††† d.††† The person has continued, after written notice to cease, to substantially violate or breach any of the landlord's rules and regulations governing said premises, provided such rules and regulations are reasonable and have been accepted in writing by the tenant or made a part of the lease at the beginning of the lease term.

†††† e. (1) The person has continued, after written notice to cease, to substantially violate or breach any of the covenants or agreements contained in the lease for the premises where a right of reentry is reserved to the landlord in the lease for a violation of such covenant or agreement, provided that such covenant or agreement is reasonable and was contained in the lease at the beginning of the lease term.

†††† (2)†† In public housing under the control of a public housing authority or redevelopment agency, the person has substantially violated or breached any of the covenants or agreements contained in the lease for the premises pertaining to illegal uses of controlled dangerous substances, or other illegal activities, whether or not a right of reentry is reserved to the landlord in the lease for a violation of such covenant or agreement, provided that such covenant or agreement conforms to federal guidelines regarding such lease provisions and was contained in the lease at the beginning of the lease term.

†††† f.†††† The person has failed to pay rent after a valid notice to quit and notice of increase of said rent, provided the increase in rent is not unconscionable and complies with any and all other laws or municipal ordinances governing rent increases.

†††† g.††† The landlord or owner (1) seeks to permanently board up or demolish the premises because he has been cited by local or State housing inspectors for substantial violations affecting the health and safety of tenants and it is economically unfeasible for the owner to eliminate the violations; (2) seeks to comply with local or State housing inspectors who have cited him for substantial violations affecting the health and safety of tenants and it is unfeasible to so comply without removing the tenant; simultaneously with service of notice of eviction pursuant to this clause, the landlord shall notify the Department of Community Affairs of the intention to institute proceedings and shall provide the department with such other information as it may require pursuant to rules and regulations.† The department shall inform all parties and the court of its view with respect to the feasibility of compliance without removal of the tenant and may in its discretion appear and present evidence; (3) seeks to correct an illegal occupancy because he has been cited by local or State housing inspectors or zoning officers and it is unfeasible to correct such illegal occupancy without removing the tenant; or (4) is a governmental agency which seeks to permanently retire the premises from the rental market pursuant to a redevelopment or land clearance plan in a blighted area. In those cases where the tenant is being removed for any reason specified in this subsection, no warrant for possession shall be issued until P.L.1967, c.79 (C.52:31B-1 et seq.) and P.L.1971, c.362 (C.20:4-1 et seq.) have been complied with.

†††† h.††† The owner seeks to retire permanently the residential building or the mobile home park from residential use or use as a mobile home park, provided this subsection shall not apply to circumstances covered under subsection g. of this section.

†††† i.†††† The landlord or owner proposes, at the termination of a lease, reasonable changes of substance in the terms and conditions of the lease, including specifically any change in the term thereof, which the tenant, after written notice, refuses to accept; provided that in cases where a tenant has received a notice of termination pursuant to subsection g. of section 3 of P.L.1974, c.49 (C.2A:18-61.2), or has a protected tenancy status pursuant to the "Senior Citizens and Disabled Protected Tenancy Act," P.L.1981, c.226 (C.2A:18-61.22 et al.), or pursuant to the "Tenant Protection Act of 1992," P.L.1991, c.509 (C.2A:18-61.40 et al.), the landlord or owner shall have the burden of proving that any change in the terms and conditions of the lease, rental or regulations both is reasonable and does not substantially reduce the rights and privileges to which the tenant was entitled prior to the conversion.

†††† j.†††† The person, after written notice to cease, has habitually and without legal justification failed to pay rent which is due and owing.

†††† k.††† The landlord or owner of the building or mobile home park is converting from the rental market to a condominium, cooperative or fee simple ownership of two or more dwelling units or park sites, except as hereinafter provided in subsection l. of this section. Where the tenant is being removed pursuant to this subsection, no warrant for possession shall be issued until this act has been complied with.† No action for possession shall be brought pursuant to this subsection against a senior citizen tenant or disabled tenant with protected tenancy status pursuant to the "Senior Citizens and Disabled Protected Tenancy Act," P.L.1981, c.226 (C.2A:18-61.22 et al.), or against a qualified tenant under the "Tenant Protection Act of 1992," P.L.1991, c.509 (C.2A:18-61.40 et al.), as long as the agency has not terminated the protected tenancy status or the protected tenancy period has not expired.

†††† l.† (1)† The owner of a building or mobile home park, which is constructed as or being converted to a condominium, cooperative or fee simple ownership, seeks to evict a tenant or sublessee whose initial tenancy began after the master deed, agreement establishing the cooperative or subdivision plat was recorded, because the owner has contracted to sell the unit to a buyer who seeks to personally occupy it and the contract for sale calls for the unit to be vacant at the time of closing.† However, no action shall be brought against a tenant under paragraph (1) of this subsection unless the tenant was given a statement in accordance with section 6 of P.L.1975, c.311 (C.2A:18-61.9);

†††† (2)†† The owner of three or less condominium or cooperative units seeks to evict a tenant whose initial tenancy began by rental from an owner of three or less units after the master deed or agreement establishing the cooperative was recorded, because the owner seeks to personally occupy the unit, or has contracted to sell the unit to a buyer who seeks to personally occupy it and the contract for sale calls for the unit to be vacant at the time of closing;

†††† (3)†† The owner of a building of three residential units or less seeks to personally occupy a unit, or has contracted to sell the residential unit to a buyer who wishes to personally occupy it and the contract for sale calls for the unit to be vacant at the time of closing.

†††† m.†† The landlord or owner conditioned the tenancy upon and in consideration for the tenant's employment by the landlord or owner as superintendent, janitor or in some other capacity and such employment is being terminated.

†††† n.††† The person has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to, or if a juvenile, has been adjudicated delinquent on the basis of an act which if committed by an adult would constitute an offense under the "Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987," N.J.S.2C:35-1 et al., involving the use, possession, manufacture, dispensing or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, controlled dangerous substance analog or drug paraphernalia within the meaning of that act within or upon the leased premises or the building or complex of buildings and land appurtenant thereto, or the mobile home park, in which those premises are located, and has not in connection with his sentence for that offense either (1) successfully completed or (2) been admitted to and continued upon probation while completing, a drug rehabilitation program pursuant to N.J.S.2C:35-14; or, being the tenant or lessee of such leased premises, knowingly harbors or harbored therein a person who has been so convicted or has so pleaded, or otherwise permits or permitted such a person to occupy those premises for residential purposes, whether continuously or intermittently, except that this subsection shall not apply to a person harboring or permitting a juvenile to occupy the premises if the juvenile has been adjudicated delinquent upon the basis of an act which if committed by an adult would constitute the offense of use or possession under the said act. No action for removal may be brought pursuant to this subsection more than two years after the date of the adjudication or conviction or more than two years after the person's release from incarceration whichever is the later.

†††† o.††† The person has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to, or if a juvenile, has been adjudicated delinquent on the basis of an act which if committed by an adult would constitute an offense under N.J.S.2C:12-1 or N.J.S.2C:12-3 involving assault, or terroristic threats against the landlord, a member of the landlord's family or an employee of the landlord; or, being the tenant or lessee of such leased premises, knowingly harbors or harbored therein a person who has been so convicted or has so pleaded, or otherwise permits or permitted such a person to occupy those premises for residential purposes, whether continuously or intermittently. No action for removal may be brought pursuant to this subsection more than two years after the adjudication or conviction or more than two years after the person's release from incarceration whichever is the later.

†††† p.††† The person has been found, by a preponderance of the evidence, liable in a civil action for removal commenced under this act for an offense under N.J.S.2C:20-1 et al. involving theft of property located on the leased premises from the landlord, the leased premises or other tenants residing in the leased premises, or N.J.S.2C:12-1 or N.J.S.2C:12-3 involving assault or terroristic threats against the landlord, a member of the landlord's family or an employee of the landlord, or under the "Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987," N.J.S.2C:35-1 et al., involving the use, possession, manufacture, dispensing or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, controlled dangerous substance analog or drug paraphernalia within the meaning of that act within or upon the leased premises or the building or complex of buildings and land appurtenant thereto, or the mobile home park, in which those premises are located, and has not in connection with his sentence for that offense either (1) successfully completed or (2) been admitted to and continued upon probation while completing a drug rehabilitation program pursuant to N.J.S.2C:35-14; or, being the tenant or lessee of such leased premises, knowingly harbors or harbored therein a person who committed such an offense, or otherwise permits or permitted such a person to occupy those premises for residential purposes, whether continuously or intermittently, except that this subsection shall not apply to a person who harbors or permits a juvenile to occupy the premises if the juvenile has been adjudicated delinquent upon the basis of an act which if committed by an adult would constitute the offense of use or possession under the said "Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987."

†††† q.††† The person has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to, or if a juvenile, has been adjudicated delinquent on the basis of an act which if committed by an adult would constitute an offense under N.J.S.2C:20-1 et al. involving theft of property from the landlord, the leased premises or other tenants residing in the same building or complex; or, being the tenant or lessee of such leased premises, knowingly harbors therein a person who has been so convicted or has so pleaded, or otherwise permits such a person to occupy those premises for residential purposes, whether continuously or intermittently.

†††† r.†††† The person is found in a civil action, by a preponderance of the evidence, to have committed a violation of the human trafficking provisions set forth in section 1 of P.L.2005, c.77 (C.2C:13-8)† within or upon the leased premises or the building or complex of buildings and land appurtenant thereto, or the mobile home park, in which those premises are located; or, being the tenant or lessee of such leased premises, knowingly harbors or harbored therein a person who has been engaged in human trafficking, or otherwise permits or permitted such a person to occupy those premises for residential purposes, whether continuously or intermittently. No action for removal may be brought pursuant to this subsection more than two years after the alleged violation has terminated.† A criminal conviction or a guilty plea to a crime of human trafficking under section 1 of P.L.2005, c.77 (C.2C:13-8) shall be considered prima facie evidence of civil liability under this subsection.

†††† s.†††† The tenant has died and no executor, administrator, or representative of the estate has contacted the landlord as of† the date of the landlordís filing for removal, which shall be no sooner than 15 days after the death of the tenant.

†††† For purposes of this section, (1) "developmental disability" means any disability which is defined as such pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1977, c.82 (C.30:6D-3); (2) "member of the immediate family" means a person's spouse, parent, child or sibling, or a spouse, parent, child or sibling of any of them; and (3) "permanently" occupies or occupied means that the occupant maintains no other domicile at which the occupant votes, pays rent or property taxes or at which rent or property taxes are paid on the occupant's behalf.

(cf: P.L.2013, c.51, s.7)

 

†††† 2.† Section 3 of P.L.1974, c.49 (C.2A:18-61.2) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 3.††† No judgment of possession shall be entered for any premises covered by section 2 of this act, except in the nonpayment of rent under subsection a. or f. of section 2, or in the case of a deceased tenant under subsection i. of this section, unless the landlord has made written demand and given written notice for delivery of possession of the premises.† The following notice shall be required:

†††† a.†††† For an action alleging disorderly conduct under subsection b. of section 2, or injury to the premises under subsection c. of section 2, or any grounds under subsection m., n., o., p., q., or r. of section 2, three days' notice prior to the institution of the action for possession;

†††† b.††† For an action alleging continued violation of rules and regulations under subsection d. of section 2, or substantial breach of covenant under subsection e. of section 2, or habitual failure to pay rent, one month's notice prior to the institution of the action for possession;

†††† c.†††† For an action alleging any grounds under subsection g. of section 2, three months' notice prior to the institution of the action;

†††† d.††† For an action alleging permanent retirement under subsection h. of section 2, 18 months' notice prior to the institution of the action and, provided that, where there is a lease in effect, no action may be instituted until the lease expires;

†††† e.†††† For an action alleging refusal of acceptance of reasonable lease changes under subsection i. of section 2, one month's notice prior to institution of action;

†††† f.†††† For an action alleging any grounds under subsection l. of section 2, two months' notice prior to the institution of the action and, provided that where there is a written lease in effect no action shall be instituted until the lease expires;

†††† g.††† For an action alleging any grounds under subsection k. of section 2, three years' notice prior to the institution of action, and provided that where there is a written lease in effect, no action shall be instituted until the lease expires;

†††† h.††† In public housing under the control of a public housing authority or redevelopment agency, for an action alleging substantial breach of contract under paragraph (2) of subsection e. of section 2, the period of notice required prior to the institution of an action for possession shall be in accordance with federal regulations pertaining to public housing leases.

†††† The notice in each of the foregoing instances shall specify in detail the cause of the termination of the tenancy and shall be served either personally upon the tenant or lessee or such person in possession by giving him a copy thereof, or by leaving a copy thereof at his usual place of abode with some member of his family above the age of 14 years, or by certified mail; if the certified letter is not claimed, notice shall be sent by regular mail.

†††† i.†††† If a lease is terminated based upon the death of a tenant, and no executor, administrator, or representative of the estate has contacted the landlord, then the landlord ma apply for a warrant of removal in a summary process no sooner than the 15th day next following the death of the tenant.† A summary application for a warrant for removal under this subsection shall include an affidavit from the landlord affirming that there has been no contact with an executor, administrator, or representative of the estate, and that no known executor, administrator, or representative exists.† The application shall also include an official copy of the tenantís death certificate. If the landlord has been contacted by an executor, administrator, or representative of the estate and proceeds with a summary process under this subsection, bad faith shall be presumed and the landlord may be held liable for treble damages and reasonable attorneys fees for any property wrongfully disposed.

(cf: P.L.2013, c.51, s.8)

 

†††† 3.††† Section 1of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-72) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 1.††† A landlord of commercial or residential property, in the manner provided by P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-72 et al.), may dispose of any tangible goods, chattels, manufactured or mobile homes or other personal property left upon a premises by a tenant after giving notice as required by section 2 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-73), only if the landlord reasonably believes under all the circumstances that the tenant has left the property upon the premises with no intention of asserting any further claim to the premises or the property and:

†††† a.†††† A warrant for removal has been executed and possession of the premises has been restored to the landlord; [or]

†††† b.††† The tenant has given written notice that he or she is voluntarily relinquishing possession of the premises; or

†††† c.†††† The tenant has died and landlord has not been contacted by the executor or administer of the estate within 15 days of the death.

†††† The provisions of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-72 et al.) shall not apply to the disposal of tenant property left on nonresidential rental property if there is a lease in effect which has been duly executed by all parties which contains specific terms and conditions for the disposal of tenant property.

(cf: P.L.2001, c.51, s.1)

 

†††† 4.††† Section 2 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-73) is amended to read as follows

†††† 2.††† a.†††††††† To dispose of a tenant's property under this act, a landlord shall first give written notice to the tenant, which shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested† or by receipted first class mail addressed to the tenant, at the tenant's last known address (which may be the address of the premises) and at any alternate address or addresses known to the landlord, in an envelope endorsed "Please Forward."

†††† b.††† In the case of a deceased tenant, written notice shall be sent, by certified mail, to any executor, administrator, or representative of the estate who has contacted the landlord.

†††† "Receipted first class mail" for purposes of this section means first class mail for which a certificate of mailing has been obtained by the sender but does not include certified or registered mail.

†††† When the property subject to disposal is a manufactured or mobile home, a copy of the notice required pursuant to this section shall also be sent to the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles and to any lienholders with security interests in the property which have been recorded with the Division of Motor Vehicles.

(cf: P.L.1999, c.340, s.2)

 

†††† 5.††† Section 4 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-75) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 4.††† After notifying a tenant, or the executor, administrator, or representative of a deceased tenantís estate, as required by sections 2 and 3 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-73 and C.2A:18-74), a landlord shall store all goods, chattels, manufactured or mobile homes and other personal property of the tenant in a place of safekeeping and shall exercise reasonable care for the property, except that the landlord may promptly dispose of perishable food and shall allow an animal control agency or humane society to remove any abandoned pets or livestock.† A landlord may store a tenant's manufactured dwelling or residential vehicle on the space previously rented, elsewhere on the premises or in a safe location off the premises.† A landlord shall be entitled to reasonable storage charges and costs incidental to storage.† A landlord may store property in a commercial storage facility, in which case the storage cost shall include the actual storage charge plus the reasonable cost of removal of the property to the place of storage.

(cf: P.L.1999, c.340, s.4)

 

†††† 6.††† Section 5 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-76) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 5.††† a.† If a tenant responds in writing or orally to the landlord, on or before the day specified in the required notice, that the tenant intends to remove the property from the premises, or from the place of safekeeping if the landlord has stored the property as provided in section 4 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-75), and does not do so within the time specified in the notice or within 15 days after the written response, whichever is later, the tenant's property shall be conclusively presumed to be abandoned.

†††† b.††† If a lienholder responds in writing to the landlord concerning a security interest in any manufactured or mobile home, and the lienholder indicates an intent to remove the property from the premises, or from the place of safekeeping, or to pay rent as a condition of leaving the property on the premises, but fails to remove the property or make rental payments within the time specified in the notice or within 15 days after the written response, whichever is later, then the landlord may proceed as if the lienholder had not responded.

†††† c.†††† If no response is received from a tenant or lienholder within the time period provided under section 3 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-74), then the tenant's property shall be conclusively presumed to be abandoned.

†††† d.††† The tenant has died and landlord has not been contacted by the executor or administer of the estate, or by a person intending to apply for letters of administration, within 15 days of the death, then the tenantís property shall be conclusively presumed to be abandoned.

(cf: P.L.1999, c.340, s.5)

 

†††† 7.††† Section 11 of P.L. 1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-80) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 11.† A landlord may deduct from the proceeds of any sale the reasonable costs of notice, storage and sale and any unpaid rent and charges not covered by a security deposit.† After deducting these amounts, the landlord shall remit to the tenant the remaining proceeds, if any, together with an itemized accounting.† If the tenant, after due diligence, cannot be found the remaining proceeds shall be deposited into the Superior Court and, if not claimed within 10 years, shall escheat to the State.† In the case of a deceased tenant, the remaining proceeds shall be provided to an executor, administrator, or representative of the estate who has contacted the landlord prior to the date of the sale.† In the case of a deceased tenant where no executor, administrator, or representative has contacted the landlord, the remaining proceeds shall be deposited into the Superior Court and, if not claimed within 10 years, shall escheat to the State.

(cf: P.L.1999, c.340, s.11)

 

†††† 8.††† This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill establishes that there is good cause for the removal of a tenant where the tenant has died and no executor, administrator, or representative has come forward to make decisions on behalf of the estate.† The bill also establishes grounds for a landlord to remove property from a unit after the death of a tenant under certain circumstances.† Under the bill, property will be considered abandoned after the death of a tenant if no executor, administrator, or representative contacts the landlord within 15 days of the tenantís death.† The removal of property would be authorized if the landlord has not been contacted by an executor, administrator, or representative of the estate within 15 days of the death of the tenant.† If an executor, administrator, or representative of the estate contacts the landlord and the situation is not resolved, the landlord would need to obtain a warrant of removal from a court and notify the executor, administrator, or representative, by certified mail, that the property will be removed pursuant to the warrant of removal.†

 

†††† Current law does not address the issue of property left by a deceased tenant who has no executor, administrator, or representative.