March 2, 2023
An illegal apartment in New Jersey is one that does not meet the local zoning rules and safety requirements. Signs that an apartment may not be legal to rent could include small windows, an unusual payment agreement, no lease, or utilities included in the rent. If you suspect your apartment may not be properly zoned, you can go to your city or town hall and request a copy of the property's certificate of occupancy or certificate of habitability.
A tenant in an illegal apartment may be entitled to relocation expenses if the landlord attempts to evict the tenant due to the illegal occupancy. The tenant can enforce New Jersey law which requires that the tenant receive six times the monthly rent as relocation assistance. It is important to check with the municipality first, however, because this recovery may not be available if the municipality has enacted a different remedy for tenants
A landlord must follow specific steps to legally evict a tenant from an illegal apartment in New Jersey. If otherwise paying rent, a landlord must first give the tenant a notice to quit, which is a legal notice informing the tenant that they must vacate the premises. The notice must be served in person, by mail, or by posting it in a conspicuous place on the property. The notice must be served at least three months before the landlord can start the eviction proceedings. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, the landlord can file an eviction complaint with the court, which will then set a date for the eviction hearing.
The tenant must attend the eviction hearing, at which point the court will decide if the tenant needs to vacate the premises. If the eviction is granted, the tenant must vacate within 10 days, unless the landlord and tenant agree to a different timeline.