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Is There an Implied Warranty of Habitability in New Jersey?

Landlords in New Jersey are required to keep all of the facilities in your apartment.

Every landlord in New Jersey is required by law to keep their rental units in safe and decent condition – regardless of what it says in your lease, or even if you have a lease.

The implied warranty was first recognized through a 1970 court case. In that case, a tenant withheld rent because her landlord wouldn’t fix the toilet. He tried evicting her and it ended up in the state supreme court. The judge ruled in her favor, saying that when any lease starts the tenant should rest assured that there are no hidden problems with any “facility vital to the use of the premises for residential purposes.” It doesn’t matter if this happened due to faulty original construction or deterioration with age – that landlord must fix it before the lease starts. The judge also said that these facilities must stay in working condition throughout the lease.

More rules for big buildings

If you live in a building with three or more units then you’re also protected by the New Jersey multiple dwelling code. This code has detailed rules that cover nearly everything you could think of, including fire safety, proper locks, windows, ventilation, walls and other building structures, plumbing, painting, garbage, sanitation, living space, common areas, pests, extermination, the duties of your superintendent, and more.

Your landlord must follow these codes regardless of the language in your lease. Different cities and towns have different codes, though, so make sure to read up on the specific building codes for your city in New Jersey.

Next steps

If your landlord isn't keeping up their end of the bargain in New Jersey than you can exercise the legal concept of constructive eviction and leave without notice. You can also legally withhold rent in New Jersey until your landlord makes repairs.

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